Question of the Week Podcast

Question of the Week episode

Wed, 13th Nov 2013

Why can I squirt a jet of saliva from my mouth?

Beading spit (c) Dave Ansell

We find out why some humans squirt saliva from their mouth as a fine jet of spit.

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In this edition of Question of the Week

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  • Why can I squirt a jet of saliva?

    Hi, In the base of my mouth, below my tongue I am sometimes able to eject a very fine spray of saliva out of my mouth. I know I am not the only person able to do that as a friend of mine could do this at will - he would lift and move his tongue and produce a fine jet of saliva...



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The tongue is the strongest muscle in the body. If it is exerted against a pool of saliva trapped under it, the saliva will find a way to exit post-haste. grizelda, Sat, 9th Nov 2013

The tongue is squirting out the contents of the salivary glands in the floor of the mouth, so squeezing a bag rather than a "pool" of saliva.

see ... RD, Sat, 9th Nov 2013

I sometimes get a similar effect when yawning, normally as I am starting to salivate - it rarely works twice. I guess because my salivary glands in the sides of my mouth get over full, and the yawning stretches and compresses them, squirting the saliva out. daveshorts, Tue, 12th Nov 2013

At last a question of the week to which I can contribute!

For as long as I can remember I've been able to do the tongue squirt, and can do it pretty much on-demand given a sufficiently moist mouth and a few seconds to "reload".
For me, it comes from the two small nodules (saliva glands?) that sit on the membrane that joins the underside of my tongue to the floor of the mouth.
As I lift my tongue this membrane is stretched and I believe that this pulls and compresses the saliva-filled sacks and causes the squirt of liquid. A bit like sitting on a whoopee cushion.

Thanks for the show and here's to many more podcasts.

Kings. Furneaux99, Wed, 13th Nov 2013

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