Tongue muscles


The tongue itself is considered a muscular organ, specialized for intrinsic manipulations. It is relied upon for speaking, food manipulation, swallowing, and teeth cleaning.


Despite the fact that the tongue is a muscle unto itself, it does rely on additional intrinsic muscles to achieve the wide array of tasks associated with it.

Gross tongue movement is caused by a variety of muscles that originate outside of the tongue’s muscular structure and insert into the tongue. The intrinsic muscles that are part of the tongue’s structure allow for shape alterations as well as its explicit mobility.


Tongue muscles
Image: Tongue Muscles

There are four extrinsic tongue muscles, each paired with an identical of the opposing side. These include the genioglossus, the hyoglossus, the styloglossus, and the palatoglossus. Contraction of the anterior half of the genioglossus muscle results in the tongue’s depressed position as well as a forced forward status.

Contracted in its completion results in the creation of a midline depression throughout the length of the entire tongue, like a hollowing ditch created or even a tube of the tongue. This muscle is vital during infancy and nursing is the prime form of nutritional sustenance.

The concave hollowing creating by these muscles allow for a travel path for breast milk to reach the pharynx.
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