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The Anatomy of The Tongue

By Chandan Sekhon - Medicine Student @ Peterhouse, Cambridge


The tongue is located in the floor of the oral cavity and is connected to the palate via the palatoglossus and palatopharyngeus muscles, along with the pharynx. Its nerve supply is divided into two, with the anterior (front) two-thirds being supplied by the chorda tympani branch of the facial nerve. This nerve mediates taste from the region and is, therefore, a sensory nerve. The lingual nerve is a sensory nerve originating from the mandibular nerve, from the trigeminal nerve. This mediates general sensation from the region. The posterior (back) third is supplied by the glossopharyngeal nerve, serving both taste and general sensation. The division between the two regions is by a region called the sulcus terminalis and regions called circumvallate papillae, which are supplied by the glossopharyngeal nerve. The root of the tongue is supplied by the vagus nerve. The front two-thirds of the tongue is covered by small projections called papillae, which have taste buds at their base.