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Your teeth and gums are probably quite familiar to you with your daily brushing and flossing, but what about your tongue? This dynamic muscle is usually only about four inches long and has two parts. The front, or anterior, and the back, or posterior sits near the throat. It is called a muscular hydrostat because it is the only muscle in your body that doesn’t use the skeleton to work!

Your tongue comes into play when your teeth masticate your food. Your tongue transfers and swallows chewed food. The apex, or tip of your tongue, can reach the upper areas of the mouth since it isn’t attached to the floor of the mouth, like the frenulum. The frenulum is the fold that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth. While the top of the tongue is generally pink and bumpy, the bottom is smooth and purple because of blood vessels along the bottom.

Your amazing tongue comes with about 3,000 to 10,000 taste buds. They live on the bumps of your tongue (papillae). They sit on the upper surface of the tongue with taste receptors, so you can taste your food. They sense sweet, sour, bitter, savory and salty tastes. Oddly enough, they can’t do this when dry. Saliva has to actually moisten the food so your tongue can recognize flavor.

Bad breath affects about 60 million people in the U.S. This halitosis develops from bacteria that tend to accumulate on the tongue. If you take the time to clean your tongue every day and staying well hydrated, you can help prevent this.

The color of your tongue can reveal your health:

–Pink generally indicates good health.
–White can indicate a fungal infection.
–Yellow can indicate a fever or stomach problem.
–No bumps can indicate an iron, folic acid or vitamin B12 deficiency.
–A hairy or darker than normal tongue can come from food staining, bacteria or using tobacco.

Cleaning your tongue:
You can take your oral care routine up a notch by taking good care of your tongue. Clean it by brushing gently with light strokes using your toothbrush and toothpaste to coat the tongue before scraping it to neutralize and remove bacteria. If you have an active gag reflex, a tongue scraper is an excellent investment because it is gentle on the tongue and doesn’t set off your gag reflex.

At Professional Dental Care, we are always happy to help you with your oral health. Please give us a call at 206-546-8377 if you have questions or concerns!