The tongue is a muscular organ in the mouth that plays a vital role in several functions, including speech, taste, and digestion. Everyone has one!
The tongue is made up of several muscles that work together to allow for a wide range of movements. The intrinsic muscles control the shape and size of the tongue, while the extrinsic muscles allow for movement in different directions. The tongue is also important for speech production, as it helps form the sounds of words by altering its shape and position in the mouth.
The tongue is rich in blood vessels and nerve endings, which makes it very sensitive and prone to injury. Common tongue injuries include burns, cuts, and piercings. Proper care of the tongue, including regular brushing and cleaning, can help prevent injury and maintain good oral hygiene.
What Does the Tongue Do?
The tongue performs several important functions in the human body. Some of these functions include:
- Taste perception: The tongue contains thousands of taste buds that detect sweet, sour, salty, and bitter flavors. The taste buds send signals to the brain to interpret the taste of food and drinks.
- Chewing and swallowing: The tongue helps to move food around the mouth during chewing and to form a ball of food for swallowing.
- Speech: The tongue, along with the lips, teeth, and other mouth muscles, plays a crucial role in forming sounds and words for speech.
- Oral hygiene: The tongue helps to clean the mouth by removing food particles and bacteria, which can help prevent bad breath and tooth decay.
- Sensory perception: The tongue has a rich supply of nerve endings, which makes it sensitive to touch, temperature, and texture.
Here are some key anatomical features of the tongue:
- Papillae: These are small bumps on the surface of the tongue that contain taste buds.
Taste buds: These are specialized cells that detect different flavours and send signals to the brain for interpretation.
- Lingual frenulum: This is a band of tissue that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
- Muscles: The tongue is composed of several muscles, including intrinsic muscles that control the shape and size of the tongue and extrinsic muscles that allow for movement in different directions.
- Sublingual glands: These are glands located beneath the tongue that produce saliva.
- Blood vessels and nerves: The tongue is rich in blood vessels and nerve endings, which make it sensitive and responsive to touch, taste, and temperature.
- Epiglottis: This is a flap of tissue located at the base of the tongue that helps to prevent food and liquid from entering the windpipe during swallowing.
Understanding the anatomy of the tongue can help us appreciate its complex and versatile nature, and how it plays an essential role in many functions of the body.
Tongue Piercing, Swelling, & Healing
Tongue piercing is a popular form of body modification where a small hole is made in the tongue using a sterilized needle, and a piece of jewellery, such as a barbell, is inserted through the hole. The piercing is usually located near the centre of the tongue, and the jewellery sits horizontally across the tongue.
Tongue piercings can be done for various reasons, including self-expression, fashion, or cultural and religious traditions. However, like any other piercing, tongue piercing carries some risks, and proper aftercare is essential to avoid complications.
Tongue swelling is a common occurrence after getting a tongue piercing. The tongue is a muscle, and piercing it can cause trauma, which can lead to inflammation and swelling. Swelling typically occurs within the first few days after the piercing and can persist for up to a week or more.
In addition to trauma, other factors that can contribute to tongue swelling after piercings include:
- Infection: The piercing process can introduce bacteria into the mouth, which can lead to infection and swelling.
- Allergic reaction: Some people may have an allergic reaction to the metals used in tongue piercing jewellery, leading to swelling.
- Improper aftercare: Failure to follow proper aftercare instructions, such as not rinsing the mouth with saline solution or not avoiding certain foods and drinks, can lead to inflammation and swelling.
If the swelling persists or becomes severe, it is important to seek medical attention, as this may be a sign of infection or another underlying condition.
The healing process for a tongue piercing typically takes between four to six weeks. However, healing times can vary depending on individual factors such as age, overall health, and aftercare practices.
To ensure proper healing and minimize the risk of complications, it is essential to follow these aftercare tips:
- Rinse your mouth with a saline solution or non-alcoholic mouthwash after every meal and before bed. This helps to keep the piercing site clean and prevent infection.
- Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating spicy, acidic, or hard foods for the first few days after getting the piercing.
- Don’t play with or touch the piercing, and avoid kissing and oral sex during the healing period.
- Avoid swimming or submerging your head in water, as it can increase the risk of infection.
- Use ice to reduce swelling and pain.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, as directed to help manage pain and reduce inflammation.
- Visit your piercer or a healthcare professional if you experience any unusual symptoms, such as excessive swelling, bleeding, or discharge.
It’s important to note that the healing process for tongue piercings can be uncomfortable, and it’s normal to experience some swelling, pain, and tenderness during this time. However, if you experience any severe pain, fever, or signs of infection, seek medical attention immediately.
Types of Tongue Piercings
There are several types of tongue piercings that people can get depending on their preference and anatomy. Some of the most common types of tongue piercings include:
Centre Tongue Piercing: This is the most common type of tongue piercing, where the jewellery is placed horizontally through the center of the tongue.
Midline Tongue Piercing: This piercing is similar to the centre tongue piercing, but the jewellery is placed slightly towards the front of the tongue, closer to the tip.
- Frenulum Tongue Piercing: Also known as a “smiley piercing,” this piercing is located on the thin strip of skin that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
- Vertical Tongue Piercing: This is a less common type of tongue piercing, where the jewellery is placed vertically through the tongue.
- Horizontal Tongue Piercing: This type of tongue piercing involves placing the jewellery horizontally through the tongue, typically towards the back.
It is essential to choose a reputable piercing studio with experienced piercers who can guide you in selecting the appropriate piercing for your anatomy and provide proper aftercare instructions to avoid complications.
What is your Tongue Experience?
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Share your experience in comments! like: What was your healing process etc