When discussing the tongue in the sense of a digestive organ, the tongue’s main responsibility is to provide assistance with swallowing during mastication. The tongue is also essential when considering its ability to taste and its assistance with forming speech. The structure of the tongue is relatively simple, a large mass of skeletal muscle covered by a mucous membrane.


The tongue’s movements from side to side or in and out are possible due to intrinsic muscles attached to the tongue. The tongue appears to lie in the oral cavity, yet only two thirds of the tongue is found in the mouth.

The additional third of the tongue is found back in the pharynx where it attaches to the hyoid bone. Along the superior surface of the tongue’s base there are numerous rounded masses of lingual tonsils.


Image: Tongue


The lingual frenulum is the vertical connective structure which holds the tongue firmly against the floor of the mouth. Its connection is mid-lined and secured to the anterior portion where the tongue meets the mouth floor. The tongue’s surface is covered with small upraised masses known as papillae, which create a roughened surface along the tongue for assisting in the manipulation of food. There are in fact three varieties of the papillae, each with its own service value.

The papillae with the greatest number would be the Filiform, and these are additionally of the highest level of sensitivity. These are discernable by their tapered tips. Filiform papillae are devoid of taste buds.

The papillae which are discernable via the V shape they create along the posterior section of the tongue are known as vallate. These are few in number and are highly susceptible to the taste of sour chemicals. The fungiform papillae are larger than the filiform and are more rounded, scattered almost haphazardly throughout the tongue.
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