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Author Topic: Why do we bite our tongues?  (Read 9573 times)

Offline thedoc

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Why do we bite our tongues?
« on: 22/07/2012 12:30:01 »
Jeffrey Schuh  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hello,

The other week, while eating lunch, and not paying particular attention to what my tongue was doing, I managed to chomp down before removing my tongue from between my incisors.

I presume that like most people, this happens occasionally, and every time it happens, I feel what seems to be only a scrape, and I think "whew, that was close, but I think I stopped my bite in the nick of time". Unfortunately, I usually manage to bite quite deeply, draw blood, and have to maneuver my tongue carefully for a few days.

Question is, why isn't our reaction time adequately fast to stop our bite before we do damage? (It almost seems like the reflex is to bite harder.) How do animals fare? I don't recall ever seeing my dog bite her tongue even though it's regularly hanging past her teeth, particularly when hot.

Jeff
Portland, OR

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 22/07/2012 12:30:01 by _system »


 

Offline SeanB

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Re: Why do we bite our tongues?
« Reply #1 on: 22/07/2012 16:07:06 »
At a wild guess I think the tongue is wired direct to the brain, and not via the reflex methods used in the spinal cord.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Why do we bite our tongues?
« Reply #2 on: 24/07/2012 17:52:19 »
The human tongue may actually be somewhat small for the animal kingdom.  But, to be effective, it must be able to reach all parts of the mouth as it cleans food from around the mouth.

As one chews through a steak, or a piece of gristle, one could potentially do some real damage to the tongue, although it is quite tough.  But, with a billion years of evolution, it is in fact rare that one chomps off the end of one's tongue.

Is it a learned response?  Perhaps that is one of the advantages of being born without teeth and drinks liquids as one explores muscular movements. 
 

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Re: Why do we bite our tongues?
« Reply #2 on: 24/07/2012 17:52:19 »

 

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