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Tongue Anatomy - How Your Tongue Works

By Tyler Woodward

The tongue is an essential part to your everyday life. Without a healthy tongue you lose the ability to enjoy food, speak well, and swallow effectively. Not being able to taste food is an issue you never want to have to endure. Let’s take a look at how the tongue is formed and how we can take care of it....


General Function and Anatomy Of The Tongue:

Tongue Anatomy

The tongue is essential for many functions that are required to live a healthy and happy life as a human. The tongue is used for speaking, chewing, and swallowing food. The upper side of the tongue is lined with a specialized tissue that is designed for the sensation of taste aka the taste buds. The tongue is broken into many different parts:

  • Anterior two-thirds of tongue:
    • Filiform Papillae - Make surface of tongue feel rough.
    • Circumvallate Papillae - form a v-shape towards the middle of the tongue, are rich in taste buds, produce a watery secretion. Pretty scarce in other areas of the tongue.
    • Midline Fissure - Where the two halves of tongue fuse during fetal development.
  • Posterior third of tongue and surrounding structures
    • Lingual tonsillar tissue - lymphoid tissue that helps protect the throat
    • Vallecular fossae - help direct food backwards over the epiglottis tissue.
    • Epiglottis - Seals off airway when food or liquid is being swallowed.
    • Palatine Tonsil - Protective lymphoid tissue lying on either side of the oropharynx

The tongue is a mass of muscle, but there are intrinsic muscles that help alter the shape of the tongue to help with speech, chewing, and swallowing which are:

  • Genioglossus - Protrudes tongue and depresses its centre.
  • Geniohyoid - Helps open mouth and lower jaw.
  • Mylohyoid - Forms the main part of the floor of the mouth.
  • Hyoglossus - Pulls the tongue down and back.
  • Stylohyoid - Pulls hyoid bone back and up.
  • Stylopharyngeus - Helps lift back of tongue to close naval cavity.
  • Digastric Muscle - Elevates hyoid bone or pulls jaw down
  • Styloglossus - Draws tongue up and back
  • Palatoglossus - Lifts back of tongue

The tongue is a complex organ, and has many parts that play a massive role in your day to day life. Learning the anatomy of the tongue and how it works will help you when trying to ensure you keep it healthy for years to come.

Read More: How Taste Buds Work

Common Challenges Of The Tongue:

Common Issues Of The Tongue

The most common issue that is seen with tongues are lesions and ulcers. These can form in several different ways, such as a bite to the tongue, being hit in the jaw and damaging the tongue, or accidentally cutting it with a utensil. The most common tongue ulcers are known as apthous ulcers and are caused by a folate or iron deficiency.

Read More: Oral Cavity Anatomy And Function

Ways To Support A Healthy Tongue:

How To Keep Your Tongue Healthy

Proper hydration and nutrition are crucial to keeping any part of your body healthy, some more specific ways to keep your tongue healthy are:

  • Coconut Oil Pulling
  • Tongue Brushing / Scraping

Conclusion On Tongue Anatomy:

The tongue is an essential part to your everyday life. Without a healthy tongue you lose the ability to enjoy food, speak well, and swallow effectively. Taking steps to learn how to take care of your tongue will help you keep this crucial organ healthy for years to come. For a good nutrition protocol to help you on this journey make sure to check out The Thermo Diet. This nutritional approach will help you fuel your body properly and help keep it healthy for a happy and healthy life into your late years.

Thermo Diet