Family and Cosmetic Dentist - Livonia
31574 Schoolcraft Road
Livonia, MI 48150
Your tongue is a highly underrated part of your body, but certainly not a simple one.
You may have heard that the tongue is a muscle. It is, in fact, comprised of many groups of muscles that run in all different directions to carry out the tongue's many functions. It is composed of muscle tissue with a coating of sensors for taste, heat, pain and tactile information.
The front of the tongue is very flexible and works in a multitude of ways, from working with the teeth to create different sounds and words, to helping you eat by moving food around your mouth while you chew. It moves food to the back of the mouth for the back teeth to grind, and, once it's mixed with saliva, the food is directed by the back muscles of the tongue into your esophagus on its way to your stomach.
The muscles in the back of the mouth also multitask not only by aiding in the eating process, but also in the formation of certain sounds, like the letter "k" and the hard "g" in "go."
Of course, we know that in addition to helping us talk and eat, the tongue also helps us taste a multitude of different flavors, from sweet to salty to sour to bitter. We have almost 10,000 taste buds inside our mouths. On the tongue, the salty and sweet taste buds are found near the front, the sour taste buds are along the sides and the bitter ones are at the back of your tongue. As we age, the taste buds begin to disappear from the sides and roof of our mouth, leaving taste buds mostly on the tongue. That's why we say that our "tastes change" as we get older - it's actually the taste buds changing, allowing us to eat foods when we're older that were too strong a flavor for us when we were children.
It's important to take care of your tongue, just like any other part of your mouth, by cleaning it properly and having it examined by your dentist during your regular dental visits.