CURIOUS TONGUE

Curious tongue is a term used dentistry.  It describes the reflexive actions  by a patient when any dental instrument is placed in his (or her) mouth and the tongue moves to the instrument, attempting to feel the foreign body.  I remember as a dental student in the clinic when performing any procedure from an examination to a tooth cleaning being  warned by an instructor who had previuosly supervised dental treatment on that patient saying "Dr. Froum be careful, that one has a curious tongue".  I learned very fast to block the tongue with a dental intrument, usually a mirror or tongue retractor, when I was performing any procedure.  The danger of cutting the tongue which has a robust blood suppy (note the color of the tongue) is pain and profuse bleeding.  Protecting and blocking the curious tongue is even more critical when the tongue is numb as a result of local anesthesia administered when treating a lower back tooth.  The patient won't feel the cut but the bleedoing is just as profuse.  Dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistancts have learned to manage this challenge to avoid injuring a patient during any dental treatment.  So every patient is assumed to have a curious tongue.  The real problem comes when a patient with a curious tongue also has a sensitive gag reflex.  That's my next blog.  

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