Tongue

The tongue is a thick, muscular organ that occupies the floor of the mouth and nearly fills the oral cavity when the mouth is closed. Mucous membrane covers the tongue, which is connected in the midline to the floor of the mouth by a membranous fold called the frenulum.

The body of the tongue is largely composed of skeletal muscle fibers that run in several directions. These muscles mix food particles with saliva during chewing and move food toward the pharynx during swallowing. The surface of the tongue has rough projections, called papillae. Some of these provide friction, which helps handle food. Other papillae contain most of the taste buds. Some taste buds are scattered elsewhere in the mouth, particularly in children (fig. 17.6).

The posterior region, or root, of the tongue is anchored to the hyoid bone. It is covered with rounded masses of lymphatic tissue called lingual tonsils.

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