Why Are There Tongues?


This is a question that has bedevilled at least one of my readers – K.L. is currently doing what I did for 40 years – she is a dentist, and regularly asks herself the same question. I’ve been out of the sport for the last 7 years but I am still finding new answers.

The tongue seems a pretty simple thing – it lies there between the molars and flaps about. In the case of politicians and lawyers it flaps there between the molars and lies…but we are not supposed to say that. The lawyers will be upset. The politicians are never upset – slanderous calumny is seen as an additional opportunity for a photo call.

But back to tongues. The tongue is the only bone in the body that is not attached to the knees. No, wait, that can’t be right…Okay, okay – the tongue is the only organ of the body that is not attached to anything else at all. It lives a life of its own and answers to no-one. It goes to bed when it likes and wears whatever it pleases. It is the teenager of muscles.

Actually the tongue is 450,600 separate muscles that combine in the dental surgery to poke into the cavity in which the high-speed drill is working. Ask K.L. She knows. The tongue may not have a death-wish but it definitely seems to have a bleed-wish as it dives around following the probe or the handpiece. Patients may have wondered why dentists stretch rubber sheet over their teeth and clamp them on with little medieval collars – we tell them that it is for hygiene and saliva control and the betterment of mankind but the real reason is to keep the damn tongue out of the way until the glue sets.

Stop laughing K.L. this is serious.

Tongues are also used to express things. Opinions, affection, and contempt. The first category is when a sophomore university student uses their lingual organ to tell the world how wrong it is and how right they are. And how this must change. Do not judge the student badly – it is not their fault – their tongue has become detached from their brain and is flapping on the pintle. Once they have completed their bachelor of political science degree and their parents have ceased to pay for their food and lodging, it will re-attach itself and go out to ask for a job from the people it decried.

Funnily enough affection and derision are both expressed when the tongue is thrust out – it all depends to whom it is thrust and into which portion of their anatomy it lodges. Setting aside the more exotic reports that have come from Tijuana or Thailand, we are left with the tongue as an organ of affection amongst the French and an organ of revulsion or contempt amongst everyone else – particularly when it is thrust out in a photograph.

This is a favourite gesture of children, the childish, and their keepers and so must be considered part of the natural makeup of mankind. We’ve all seen it, and in the case of some parts of the internet, we’ve seen it time and time again. It leads to a sense of exasperation – fortunately Facebook has mechanisms to repel it and to return us to the politer topics of cats and political propaganda. And what we had for dinner.

Oh, that’s another thing that you can do with tongues. Dinner. And as it is time for said meal, I will leave you and post this. K.L., the filling is set – you can remove the matrix band now.


2 thoughts on “Why Are There Tongues?

  1. Hello Dick! I just finished checking the occlusion! The bite looks good! He he he! I absolutely loved your post! It was informative as well as hilarious! How did you know I would be smiling wide on the other side of your computer screen? 😀


    1. Well, K.L.,

      I drew cartoons for twenty years for our local dental association based on the doings at the surgery. I learned early on to make myself the butt of the humour and to lard it on pretty thick – and then I could poke fun at the Dental Board, the Dental School, and the more obnoxious of my fellow practitioners in safety. No-one seemed to mind. I was occasionally horrified when something I had drawn in a moment of folly actually presented itself in the chair. As you’ll see if you reel back on some of the older posts in the blogs, I still use me as the target, even when I am not.

      I still do it to some extent in my retirement job – in a camera store – but as retail customers can sometimes be even less happy than the ones I used to get in the chair – and for far more trivial reasons – I let them off gently. Well, relatively gently. Sometimes the temptation is too great to resist. Please keep reading – I’ll try to dig up some of the old dental cartoons for you. Uncle Dick

      Liked by 1 person

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