Taking A Tour Of Your Tongue

Taking A Tour Of Your Tongue | Sol Speech And Language Therapy In Austin Texas

We use our tongue so often, it’s easy to forget what an important role it plays in our health, wellbeing, and our ability to communicate through speech.

Issues with our tongue can impact our ability to communicate words and sounds clearly.

Many speech related tongue problems occur in childhood, but they can affect you as an adult as well.

Our speech-language pathologists commonly treat speech disorders related to the tongue.

But there’s more to your tongue than just sticking it out at people.

Let’s take a closer look at your tongue.

What Is Your Tongue?

Your tongue is an organ made of muscle.

Its base is anchored in your mouth, while its tip can move around freely.

Your tongue is unique among the muscles in your body for its ability to move freely in three dimensions.

What Is The Purpose Of Your Tongue?

Your tongue allows you to speak, breathe, and chew your food properly.

Your tongue also allows you to taste food, thanks to specialized cells known as taste buds.

It also helps to keep your airway open, allowing you to breathe normally.

The tip of your tongue is also highly sensitive to touch.

It’s one of the most sensitive touch areas in your body.

From a speech perspective, most speech sounds are made with your tongue.

There have been people who’ve learned to speak without a tongue and be understood, but it sounds quite a bit different.

What Speech Disorders Are Caused By Your Tongue?

Since it’s so important for moving air around to form words, issues with your tongue can affect your ability to speak.

Let’s look at some speech related tongue disorders below.

1. Tongue Tie

A tongue tie, also called ankyloglossia, is a genetic condition present from birth.

It occurs when a short, thick band of tissue connects the tip of your tongue to the bottom of your mouth, restricting its ability to move freely.

In babies, this can make breastfeeding difficult.

If left untreated in children, a tongue tie can cause difficulty with normal mouth movements such as licking and kissing.

It can also interfere with making certain speech sounds, including t, d, z, s, th, and r.

There are a number of different treatments for tongue tie, including a surgery called a frenectomy.

Speech therapy for tongue tie can also help, regardless of whether you want to pursue surgery.

2. Speech Sound Disorders

Many different parts of your mouth and jaw work together to produce the sounds needed for you to speak.

These parts include your:

  • Teeth
  • Lips
  • Tongue
  • Upper gum ridge
  • Hard palate (the hard part of the roof of your mouth)
  • Soft palate (the soft part of the roof of your mouth)
  • Uvula
  • Pharyngeal wall
  • Glottis (the space between your vocal folds)

When there are issues with any of these individual parts, it may impact your ability to articulate words and sounds.

There are a number of different speech sound disorders, and speech therapists are trained to help with all of them.

These include:

RELATED: Understanding The Different Types Of Speech Sound Disorders

3. Tongue Thrust

A tongue thrust is a condition occurring in childhood and infancy.

It occurs when your tongue pushes too far forward in your mouth.

This causes an orthodontic condition called an “open bite”.

While it is preventable, if a tongue thrust is left untreated, it can lead to issues with clear speech.

If your child has tongue thrust, there are a number of different healthcare providers they’ll need help from.

This includes their dentist, orthodontist, pediatrician, and of course, their pediatric speech therapist.

Here at Sol Speech And Language Therapy, we offer speech therapy for tongue thrust that can help.

4. Childhood Apraxia Of Speech

Childhood apraxia of speech is when your child has difficulty coordinating their muscles to speak.

This includes their tongue, as well as their lip, jaw, larynx, and more.

It’s not an issue with their muscles, though.

Instead, it’s an issue with the part of their brain that controls those muscles.

Speech therapy for childhood apraxia of speech can help.

Your child’s speech therapist can help teach your child how to better control these muscles to improve their clarity of speech.

What Is Your Tongue?| Sol Speech And Language Therapy In Austin Texas

Is Your Tongue An Organ?

Your tongue is considered to be a muscular organ.

It’s an important organ in digestion, as it works to break down food as we chew, moving it around the mouth before it is swallowed.

What Is Your Tongue Made Of?

Your tongue is made mostly of muscle.

It’s also full of blood vessels and nerves, making it one of the most sensitive parts of your body.

Your tongue is covered with a layer of specialized mucous membrane, as well as bumps called papillae.

These are where your taste buds are located.

There are four distinct types of papillae, or bumps, on your tongue.

Let’s take a look.

Filiform Papillae

The first is filiform.

These are found on the front two thirds of your tongue.

They look like small threads, and don’t contain any taste buds.

Fungiform Papillae

Next is fungiform, which are named for their mushroom like shape.

They can be found on the sides and tip of your tongue, and consist of approximately 1,600 taste buds.

Circumvallate Papillae

Circumvallate are small bumps on the back of your tongue.

They appear larger than the other types of papillae, and they contain approximately 250 taste buds.

Foliate Papillae

Finally, foliate, which are located on the sides of the back part of your tongue.

The foliate papillae look like rough folds of tissue.

Each person has about 20 foliate papillae, which contain several hundred taste buds.

What Color Is A Healthy Tongue?

A healthy tongue is pink.

While the shades of pink color can vary with lighter and darker areas, tongue discoloration can be a sign of potential health issues.

A yellow, purple, black, or white tongue could be a sign of an underlying health condition, bacterial infection, or vitamin deficiency.

How Does Your Tongue Affect Speech?

The tongue’s moveability allows us to produce speech.

The lips, teeth and tongue all have to work together to form the sounds we interpret as words and letters.

It is able to produce more than 90 words per minute, using more than 20 individual movements.

The tongue is vital for pronouncing the English consonants t, d, l, and r.

If the tip of the tongue remains between the teeth, we hear what is called a lisp.

Book Your Appointment With Sol Speech And Language Therapy Today

Our ability to communicate with spoken language depends on our tongue.

It is a fascinating organ that also helps us to taste our food, and breathe with ease.

The tongue also works together with our lips, teeth, and jaw to form the sounds needed to speak effectively.

However, whether in infancy, childhood, or even adulthood, issues with our tongue may arise that can impact our ability to speak clearly and be understood.

If you or your child has a speech disorder affecting your tongue, we can help.

Book a consultation at one of our clinic locations with one of our licensed therapists, and find out how speech therapy can help.

Book your appointment with Sol Speech And Language Therapy today.

Sol Speech & Language Therapy
6448 E Hwy 290 Suite E-108,
Austin, TX 78723

(512) 368-9488
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Sol Speech & Language Therapy
555 Round Rock W Dr E-221,
Round Rock, TX 78681

(512) 808-3953
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Sol Speech & Language Therapy offers personalized skilled intervention to those struggling with their speech and language skills. Services offered include screening, consultation, and comprehensive evaluation. We also provide one-on-one and/or group therapy for speech sound disorders, receptive/expressive language delay/disorder, stuttering/cluttering, accent reduction, and much more.