Nest of Teeth

This topic is one of those things that just makes you wonder. Is this the best way?

We have the phrase “Bite your tongue”, we say this to suggest that it might be best to stop talking. It makes sense because a bitten tongue is very painful and sometimes it is very difficult to speak after accidentally biting your tongue. Of course, it is almost impossible to intentionally bite your tongue, so the phrase isn’t very practical.

Since all bitten tongues are accidental, you might want to spend some time thinking about how to reduce the accidents. I tried to look up the accident rate of biting your ear. There isn’t any. There are some rates of biting other’s ears, but nothing on biting your own ears. The reason there are rates of biting your tongue is obvious. It is almost completely based upon the close proximity of tongue and teeth. In fact, the tongue is nearly completely surrounded by gnashing incisors and grinding molars. The tongue is in a nest of teeth!

This makes perfect sense if you think of the tongue only as a tool to position food for chewing and digestion. I suppose if we didn’t have a tongue we would use our fingers, but that would be unsightly at the dinner table. And we would still have a few accidentally bitten fingers. We need our fingers for other more important jobs.

This brings up the dilemma, our tongues also has other uses. Speaking and singing have brought our species into better communication. It would be safe to say that speaking led to writing, and writing led to civilization, so the tongue is possibly, (next to the brain), the most valuable organ of our existence.

(The brain is mostly safe, it has natural shock absorbers, it is almost completely enclosed in armor, the cranium. It is thoughtfully designed. The tongue, however, sleeps in a bed surrounded by knives and hammers.)

I’m writing this because I have recently been diagnosed with “geographic tongue”, where the surface of the tongue is slightly debrided, which irritates the tongue, causing it to swell slightly. I now have “Fat tongue”, which means the tongue does not sleep completely in “the nest”, and accidentally biting the tongue causes even more swelling, so it is an endless dilemma.

It would not be that important if I didn’t have to use my tongue to communicate. I’m taking this whole thing ae a lesson of sorts, I’m trying to listen more and speak less.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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