Structure of Tongue: Introduction, Functions of Tongue, Parts and Elements of the Tongue (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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Introduction of Tongue

  • Tongue acts as the muscular organ in the mouth of most vertebrates that manipulates food for mastication.
  • It is used in the act of swallowing.
  • It is the primary organ of taste in the gustatory system.
  • It also serves as the natural means of cleaning the teeth.
  • The taste buds housed in numerous lingual papillae covers the tongue՚s upper surface.
  • Tongue is sensitive and kept moist by saliva.
    • Is richly supplied with nerves and blood vessels.
  • The shape of the tongue is altered by four intrinsic muscles and are not attached to the bone.

Division of Human Tongue

Division of Human Tongue

Features of the Tongue Surface

Features of the Tongue Surface

Functions of Tongue

Features of the Tongue Surface


  • Tastants include chemicals that stimulate taste receptor cells.
  • The tongue is equipped with many taste buds on its dorsal surface.
  • Each taste bud is equipped with taste receptor cells that can sense classes of tastes.


  • It is an important accessory organ in the digestive system.
  • The tongue is used for:
    • Crushing food against the hard palate.
    • During mastication and manipulation of food for softening prior to swallowing.
  • Keratinized is the epithelium on the tongue՚s upper, or dorsal surface.
Salivary Glands


The shaping of the tongue is facilitated by the intrinsic muscles of the tongue which further facilitates speech.


An important role is played by the tongue in physical intimacy and sexuality.

Parts and Elements of the Tongue

  • The tongue is divided into three parts namely the Tip, Body, and the Nose.
  • The three elements are namely Epithelium, Muscles, Glands.


  • It consists of papillae and taste buds.
  • The taste buds help to sense taste.
  • The taste cells are slender, rod-shaped with a nucleus in the center.
  • The taste cells help in:
    • Detecting taste
    • Dissolves in saliva for proper sensation


  • The four intrinsic muscles act to change the shape of the tongue being not attached to any bone.
  • The eight muscles of the human tongue are classified as either intrinsic or extrinsic.
  • The tongue muscles are voluntary.


  • The tongue consists of small and scattered glands.
  • These are of three types namely Mucous Glands, Serous Glands and Lymph Nodes.

Salivary Glands

Parotid Submaxillary Sublingual


It is located opposite the second upper molar tooth.


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


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


Q 1. What are the important functions of the Tongue?


Tongue performs a few important functions:

i) The tongue is vital for chewing and swallowing food.

ii) The four common tastes are namely sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, etc.

Q 2. What are some of the important features of the Tongue Surface?


Important features of the Tongue Surface are:

i) Lingual Tonsil

ii) Dorsal Surface

iii) Median Sulcus

iv) Lateral Border

v) Tip

vi) Circumvallate Papillae

Developed by: