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Function of the tongue

function of the tongue

The tongue is a muscular organ in the mouth that plays an important role in various functions such as taste, chewing, swallowing, and speech. Understanding the function of the tongue is crucial for maintaining good oral health and overall well-being. In this article we will explain the function of the tongue and explain why it is so important to your health.

What Is the Function of the Tongue?

The tongue is a complex and versatile organ with various functions. It is made up of muscles, nerves, and taste buds, and is responsible for moving food around the mouth during eating, helping to form sounds during speech, and playing a vital role in the sense of taste.

How do you know if your tongue is healthy?

A healthy tongue is typically pink in color, with a smooth and moist surface. However, there are some common signs of tongue problems or conditions that you should be aware of, such as discoloration, swelling, bumps or lesions, and changes in texture. Maintaining good oral hygiene through regular brushing and flossing can help keep your tongue healthy.

How does your tongue relate to your oral health?

The tongue plays a vital role in maintaining good oral health. It is responsible for moving food around the mouth, which helps to stimulate saliva production, aiding in the digestion process. The tongue’s function is interconnected with other parts of the mouth, such as the teeth, gums, and saliva. Common oral health problems related to the tongue include:

Maintaining good oral hygiene and visiting the dentist regularly can help prevent or treat these issues. Additionally, seeing a dentist for regularly check-ups can help them to identify these issues. Some, such as oral cancer, are often able to be treated much easier if they are caught quickly. Others, such as canker sores, will go away on their own usually within a couple of weeks.

It is important to seek medical attention if you experience persistent tongue problems or conditions.

Caring for your tongue

Many people don’t realize that you should brush your tongue as part of your oral hygiene routine. Brushing or scraping the tongue helps remove bacteria and food particles, promoting good breath and overall oral health. Do this when you brush your teeth and make it a habit. That will help you to improve your oral health and keep your tongue healthy and happy.

Why is function of the tongue important?

The tongue is an important part of the body, serving a variety of functions beyond taste. Its movement and position are integral to speech and communication, and it plays a role in swallowing and digestion.

The tongue’s function is also interconnected with other parts of the body, such as the teeth, jaw, and throat. Overall, the tongue is an incredibly important organ that plays a vital role in many functions. Taking care of your tongue by maintaining good oral hygiene and visiting the dentist regularly can help ensure it remains healthy and functioning properly. This, in turn, can contribute to better overall health and well-being.

Taste as a function of the tongue

The tongue also helps us to distinguish different tastes by manipulating food particles with its tiny projections called papillae. Papillae are small bumps that contain hundreds of taste buds. It contains taste receptors, which are responsible for detecting the five basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami.

The taste buds on the tongue work in conjunction with the sense of smell to create the perception of flavor. The tongue can also affect food preferences and dietary choices, as individuals may be more or less sensitive to certain tastes.


Chewing is an important function of the tongue that involves breaking down food into smaller pieces that can be swallowed and digested. The tongue helps to position food between the teeth and grind it into smaller pieces. Chewing food thoroughly is essential for digestion and overall health as it makes it easier for the body to absorb nutrients.

Common chewing problems or disorders include TMJ, malocclusion, and missing teeth, which can impact the tongue’s ability to move and perform its role in chewing.


Swallowing is a complex process that involves the tongue and other muscles in the mouth and throat. The tongue helps to push food to the back of the mouth and initiate the swallowing process. Swallowing problems, such as dysphagia, can occur when there is a disruption in the normal swallowing process. Maintaining good swallowing function is essential for preventing choking, malnutrition, and dehydration.

Tips for maintaining good swallowing function include staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet with appropriately sized portions.

Speech and communication

The tongue plays a crucial role in speech and communication, and its movement and position affect speech sounds. The tongue helps to form sounds by changing its position and shape, and it also works in conjunction with other parts of the mouth and throat to create speech. Common speech problems or disorders related to the tongue include lisps, stuttering, and apraxia of speech.

Understanding the role of the tongue in speech and communication can help individuals improve their communication skills and seek treatment if necessary.


In conclusion, the tongue is a multifunctional organ that plays a vital role in overall health and wellbeing. Understanding the function of the tongue can help individuals take better care of their oral health and prevent or treat a variety of tongue problems and conditions. Ensure a healthy tongue by:

  • Maintaining good oral hygiene
  • recognizing signs of tongue problems
  • seeking medical attention when necessary

Doing these things will help ensure that the tongue remains healthy and functioning properly.

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