The tongue is unique in that it is the only muscle that isn't connected to bone at both ends. It is connected to the hyoid bone, which is also unique as it is the only bone not connected to any other bone in the body. The tongue's primary function is gustatory sensation (tasting) and aiding in mastication (chewing). It also helps with speech and sound formation. The tongue is made up of a number of individual muscles that aid in positioning the tongue while chewing or speaking. The upper"skin" of the tongue contains the taste buds. The taste buds are found on the front two-thirds of the tongue and there are between 25 and 75 papillae that contain between one and six taste buds. There are a number of problems that can develop with the tongue. These include: Nerve damage that inhibits tongue movement and can make speaking and chewing difficult Taste abnormalities caused by damage to the taste buds from infection or injuries, such as burns Pain in the tongue that can be caused by mouth ulcers, anemia, or even mouth cancer.
Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
In Depth: Tongue