All About the Tongue

March 4th, 2011 by SarahE

tongueDid you know that the largest tongue on record weighs 5400 pounds and is about the size of an elephant? This tongue belongs to the blue whale. Though human tongues don’t even come close to that size, the widest on record reaching 3.1 inches, there are many things that can be learned about them.

Some medical assistant programs spend a good deal of time discussing the tongue. Keeping the tongue clean can help prevent osteoporosis, diabetes, pneumonia, premature births, heart attacks, and even infertility in men. For this reason, many medical assistant colleges consider the tongue a very important body part to study.

The average human has around 10,000 taste buds. Not all of these are located on the tongue itself. About 2,000 taste buds are located on the roof of the mouth, on the lips, inside the cheeks, and under the tongue. These taste buds can only react to chemicals which are soluble in water. The fact that salt dissolves very quickly in water is what give its flavor enhancing qualities. Those in the field of medical assisting should know of all the taste buds, not only the ones on the tongue.

Medical assisting colleges also teach about the taste cells contained within a taste bud. Each taste bud has between fifty and a hundred taste cells. These cells have sensors for different types of tastes; sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami. Umami is the least known of these and refers to the Japanese word for savory. It is associated with the chemical monosodium glutamate. Sensors of bitter and sweet cannot occur in the same cell, however, other combinations are all possible. A certified medical assistant also knows that the bitter taste cells are found most prominently toward the back and center of the tongue, sour are found near the edge of the tongue, just ahead of the bitter taste buds, salty are found on the edge of the tongue near the front, and umami are found most in the front and center area of the tongue.

If you wish to become a medical assistant, you are sure to find that the tongue is a complex and interesting organ, worth studying at any medical assistant college. Even if you do not intend to enter the field of medical assisting, knowing about the tongue can prove beneficial to anyone.

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