From the day we are born, the tongue is one of the most important and necessary parts of our anatomy, and yet, somehow, we take it for granted and often forget it is even there! From nursing to swallowing, from chewing to tasting, from speaking to razzing the opposing team, we need our tongues and have to take good care of them!
Known as the strongest single muscle in the body, the tongue has a unique ability to move in all directions, making it essential to many, many functions of our daily lives.
- Eating and Drinking: When babies breastfeed, the tongue moves backward in their closed mouths, producing the pressure needed to suck in the fluid for drinking. As our mouths mature, the tongue works together with the cheeks to move the food into and around our teeth so they can chew the food, then works to massage the salivary glands to pre-digest the chewed food, massages the matter against the palate to aid in swallowing, and finally works to move the food down into our esophagus for final digestion!
- Tasting: We have described in detail the mechanics of the tongue’s papillae, or taste buds, and how they work to let us know if something is sweet, salty, bitter, umami, or sour. But in less evolved species (including our own in times past) the sense of taste was actually critical to our very survival, since it was the sole method available to test food and tell the difference between good and poisonous or bad food.
- Communication: The tongue, lips and teeth work together to allow us to utter comprehensible sounds and words. The consonants “t”, “d”, “l” and rolling “r” cannot be produced without the tongue, and the way the tongue interacts with our front teeth determines whether or not we have a lisp. The maneuverability and position of the tongue is essential to many aspects of speech therapy.
- Fun: Without use of the tongue, a child can’t protest or a disillusioned sports fan can’t razz! Where would we all be if we didn’t see a child sticking his/her tongue out at a playmate or a parent who denied that extra scoop of ice cream! And “raspberries” is our favorite form of benign protest at sporting events or even when we watch the evening news!
The bottom line? We need our tongues and we take them for granted. So be sure to include YOUR tongue in your daily hygiene routine. Brush, floss and use your TUNG Brush and Gel consistently to protect your successful eating, drinking, tasting, talking, and even razzing!!!!