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The tongue is mainly composed of muscles. It is covered with a mucous membrane. Small nodules of tissue (papillae) cover the upper surface of the tongue. Between the papillae are the taste buds, which provide the sense of taste. In addition to taste, the tongue functions in moving food to aid chewing and swallowing, and it is important in speech.

Review Date 2/13/2015

Updated by: Sumana Jothi MD, otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, airway, voice, and swallowing disorders, clinical instructor UCSF Otolaryngology, NCHCS VA, SFVA, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.