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The tongue is a muscle attached to the floor of your mouth. It is actually a collection of muscles working together to manipulate food for chewing and swallowing. The tongue also plays two roles unrelated to the digestive system. The upper surface of the tongue has taste buds that provide us with our sense of taste. The tongue is also used in speech, and the formation of sounds. Read on to learn more about the tongue, and its role in digestion.

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Human Tongue

The tongue is made mainly of skeletal muscle. It consists of the tip, blade, dorsum or back, and root.

The front part of the tongue is very flexible. It can move in many ways. When you eat, your tongue helps by moving food around in your mouth to assist with chewing. For example, your tongue pushes the food to your back teeth for grinding.

The muscles in the back of the tongue help move food to the back of the mouth and into the esophagus, or food pipe, to starts its journey into the stomach. These muscles also help, when speaking, to make sounds such as the letter "k" and hard "g."

The top of the tongue is rough and bumpy. These bumps are called papillae. In addition to providing grip for moving food around in the mouth, the papillae contain taste buds. Your mouth has thousands of taste buds, but they detect only four different kinds of taste. No matter what foods you eat, your taste buds can only detect sweet, sour, bitter and salty flavors. The taste buds send messages to the brain, that interprets what you are tasting or eating.

The tongue root securely connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. An important part of the tongue root is the frenulum. This is a membrane also connecting your tongue to the bottom of your mouth. The root's connection to the base of the mouth, and frenulum connection in particular, prevent you from swallowing your tongue.


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