Structure of Tongue

The tongue is a muscular organ in the mouth covered with a moist, pink tissue called the mucosa. It is involved in licking, tasting, breathing, swallowing, and speaking. The papillae present on the tongue gives it a rough texture. It is covered by a number of taste buds. There are several nerves in the tongue that help in transmitting taste signals to the brain, and thus helps in taste sensation.

Let us explore the structure, parts and functions of tongue in detail.

Also Read: Sense Organs

Structure of Tongue

The human tongue is about 3.3 inches in men and 3.1 inches in women. It is located in the oral cavity. The tongue is divided into three parts:

  • Tip
  • Body
  • Base

The tongue is embryologically divided into the anterior and posterior part. The anterior part is known as the oral or presulcal part that includes the root attached to the floor of the oral cavity. While the posterior part is known as pharyngeal or postsulcal part that includes the base forming the ventral wall of oropharynx.

The tongue is made up of three elements:

  • Epithelium
  • Muscles
  • Glands

Epithelium

The epithelium comprises papillae and taste buds. The taste buds help to sense taste. They are lined by squamous epithelial tissue and have a broad bottom.

The taste cells are slender, rod-shaped with a nucleus in the centre. The free surface comprises short taste hair. The taste cells help in detecting taste, which dissolves in saliva for proper sensation.

Muscles

The tongue muscles are voluntary and contain cross-striated muscular fibres.

Glands

The tongue consists of small and scattered glands. These glands are of three types:

  • Mucous Glands
  • Serous Glands
  • Lymph Nodes

The lymph nodes are very prominent at the posterior part of the tongue and are known as lingual tonsils.

Nerve Supply

The glossopharyngeal nerve and the chorda tympanic branch of the facial nerve are responsible for taste sensation. The sensations of pain, touch, temperature are carried by the trigeminal nerve.

Also Read: Mouth and Buccal Cavity

Tongue Functions

Following are the important tongue functions:

Mastication

The tongue helps in chewing.

Deglutition

It helps in swallowing food.

Taste

The tongue transmits taste signals to the brain and helps in sensing taste.

Speech

It is an important organ that facilitates speech.

Secretion

It secretes mucous and serous fluid which keeps the mouth moist.

Salivary Glands

Salivary glands comprise three pairs:

  • Parotid
  • Submaxillary
  • Sublingual

Parotid

It opens on the inner surface of the cheek by the duct of Stensen. It is located opposite the second upper molar tooth.

Submaxillary

It opens by Wharton’s duct on the floor of the mouth by the sides of the frenulum of the tongue.

Sublingual

It opens by the ducts of Rivinus on the floor of the mouth by the sides of the frenulum of the tongue.

Also Read: Human Body

To know more about tongue structure, its parts and functions, keep visiting BYJU’S website.

1 Comment

  1. It gives complete information on structure functions, uses also more information on the tongue. Thank you, Byju’s. This helped me a lot.

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