|Year : 2019 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 139-144
Tongue morphometry: Evaluation of morphological variations in ethnic Tamil population
Lekshmy Jayan, R Bharanidharan, R Ramya, N Priyadharsini, A Ramesh Kumar
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology and Microbiology, SRM Dental College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
|Date of Submission||21-May-2019|
|Date of Acceptance||22-Aug-2019|
|Date of Web Publication||15-Oct-2019|
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology and Microbiology, SRM Dental College, Ramapuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Introduction: Tongue is a vital organ well encased with in the oral cavity, morphological features of which are unique and differs from one individual to other. Visual inspection of the tongue is a noninvasive and inexpensive method to evaluate the morphological variations. Aim: This study aims to evaluate the morphological variations of tongue in male and female in ethnic Tamil population. Objective: The objective is to study the morphological features such as shape, length, and width of the tongue, presence and location of fissure pattern and its gender variations by visual examination method in ethnic Tamil population between age 21 and 30 years. Materials and Methods: The study sample included 250 male and 250 female (21–30 years). The participants were subjected to visual examination and by obtaining a digital photograph of the tongue on maximum protrusion to study the morphological variation like shape of the tongue, presence and location of fissure. Results: The mean for width of the tongue was 3.599. The length of the tongue had a mean value of 4.283. On analyzing the shape of the tongue, U shape was more common in both male (68%) and female (62%) and V shape is common in female (38%). In female, the most common is absent or no fissures whereas in male central fissure was most common. Conclusion: Tongue showed significant morphological variations in male and female. Visual examination of tongue is a simple and inexpensive way to collect data and can be saved along with other dental records. Tongue prints being unique can serve as both a biometric and forensic tool.
Keywords: Fissures of tongue, forensic profiling, gender identification, morphological variation, tongue morphometry
|How to cite this article:|
Jayan L, Bharanidharan R, Ramya R, Priyadharsini N, Kumar A R. Tongue morphometry: Evaluation of morphological variations in ethnic Tamil population. SRM J Res Dent Sci 2019;10:139-44
|How to cite this URL:|
Jayan L, Bharanidharan R, Ramya R, Priyadharsini N, Kumar A R. Tongue morphometry: Evaluation of morphological variations in ethnic Tamil population. SRM J Res Dent Sci [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Jun 4];10:139-44. Available from: http://www.srmjrds.in/text.asp?2019/10/3/139/269214
| Introduction|| |
The tongue is a vital organ which is well enclosed within the oral cavity, having its own blood and nervous supply and is composed of extrinsic and intrinsic muscles controlling its movement and also papillae which is characteristic. It is unique to each person in its surface characteristics mainly, shape, surface texture, and size. This uniqueness of tongue may aid in individual identification and thus may serve as a new biometric tool.
The tongue is a fascinating organ which can be a steadfast proof of life, as only an individual who is alive can protrude his tongue. Tongue is the only internal organ which can be easily exposed for inspection. It provides information in both static (surface characteristics) and dynamic (tongue movement) features for authentication.
The morphological features of tongue may show variation from one individual to another even in twins and also between male and female. It is not influenced by any external environmental changes as it is isolated and well protected within the oral cavity and thus not easily forged. On protrusion of tongue, the exposed portion encompasses of information collectively known as the tongue print, which has discernible differences from one individual to another, individual lingual shape and physiological texture is consistent.
Examination of the tongue is one of the important components in the inspection diagnosis of Traditional Chinese medicine, as estimating the characteristics of tongue may serve in understanding changes in the body thereby any illness distressing it.,
The morphological features of tongue can be studied on the basis of shape, fissures (presence, location, width, and depth) length and width of the tongue, and distribution of papilla on the dorsal surface of the tongue.
In the present study, we have assessed the shape, width, and length of the tongue, presence and location of fissure distribution to find if any sexual dimorphism exists in the morphological features of the tongue.
Aim of the study
The present study aims at evaluation of the morphological variations in tongue in male and female in Ethnic Tamil population.
Selection of samples
- Systemically and emotionally healthy individuals
- Age group – 21–30 years (this age group was selected as they were less prone to developing various systemic illnesses that may cause any morphological alterations).
- Systemic illness such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and individuals taking under antibiotic treatment
- Any lesion on tongue both developmental and acquired
- History of habits, such as smoking and tobacco chewing.
| Materials and Methods|| |
Ethical clearance was obtained from the Institutional Review Board of SRM Dental College; the study included 500 individuals, 250 males and 250 females, from the outpatients in the Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology in SRM Dental College, Ramapuram, Chennai. The study participants were randomly selected from patients who attended the outpatient to the Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, SRM Dental College, Ramapuram, Chennai. Patients with the habit of smoking or tobacco chewing and patients with systemic illness were excluded.
Clinical examination of the tongue was performed, and patients were asked to rinse their mouth thoroughly prior to the examination to remove any debris. A photograph of the tongue from front view was taken with the help of a 16-megapixel Nikon Coolpix B500 digital camera. The distance between the patient and the camera was kept at roughly 20 cm as this was closest distance at which the features of the image can be taken clearly without compromising the quality and clarity. The shape of the tongue was assessed by the help of three reference parameters – the points where the tongue contacts the commissure of the lip and the tip of the tongue on maximum protrusion. The width of the tongue was measured with the help of two reference parameters – the points where the tongue contacts the commissure of the lip. The length of the portion of tongue visible on maximum protrusion is measured with the help of the three references parameters – the line joining the tip perpendicularly to the line connecting the points of contact on the commissure of the lip. Measurements were done with the help of Vernier calliper (measuring range – 0–150 mm/0–6 inch, resolution – 0.1 mm/0.01 inch, and repeatability – 0.1 mm/0.01 inch) Fissures on the tongue were categorized either as absent [Figure 1]a or present and when present were subdivided into five types explicitly central [Figure 1]b, vertical [Figure 1]c, multiple vertical [Figure 1]d, horizontal [Figure 1]e, and multiple horizontal [Figure 1]f.
|Figure 1: Types of Fissures of tongue (a) Absent, (b) central, (c) vertical, (d) multiple vertical, (e) horizontal, (f) multiple horizontal|
Click here to view
| Results|| |
Measurements for a total of 500 individuals (250 males and 250 females) were tabulated. The measured parameters were analyzed in SPSS version 18.0 software. The mean and standard deviation for the length of the tongue were 4.283 ± 0.6543 cm and for the width of the tongue were 3.599 ± 0.4268 cm. The mean and standard deviation for fissures of the tongue were 0.34 ± 0.476 cm when the fissures were not present, 0.25 ± 0.435 cm for central fissures, 0.11 ± 0.314 cm for vertical fissures, 0.15 ± 0.359 cm for multiple vertical fissures, 0.04 ± 0.198 cm for horizontal fissures, and 0.16 ± 0.368 cm for multiple horizontal fissures, respectively, and the mean and standard deviation for shape of the tongue were 2.65 ± 0.479 cm correspondingly [Table 1]. The evaluation between these parameters is done using Pearson's correlation method.
Examination of fissures of the tongue
On examination of morphological characters, fissures were the most characteristic and common features. Fissures were categorized either as absent or present and when present can be again subdivided into central, ventral, horizontal, multiple horizontal, and multiple vertical. Sixty percent of females showed fissures out of which, 22% of individuals showed central type, 10% showed vertical, 16% showed multiple vertical, 4% showed horizontal, and 14% showed multiple horizontal types of fissure distribution. Seventy-two percent of males showed fissures, out of which 28% of individuals showed the central type of fissures, 12% showed vertical, 14% showed multiple vertical, 4% showed horizontal, and 18% showed multiple horizontal fissures [Table 2] and [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4].
The mean and standard deviation for fissures of the tongue were 0.34 ± 0.476 cm when the fissures were not present, 0.25 ± 0.435 cm for central fissures, 0.11 ± 0.314 cm for vertical fissures, 0.15 ± 0.359 cm for multiple vertical fissures, 0.04 ± 0.198 cm for horizontal fissures, and 0.16 ± 0.368 cm for multiple horizontal fissures, respectively [Table 1].
It was noted that female showed more tendency to have no fissures on the ventral surface of the tongue whereas male has a higher tendency to have central type of fissures.
Width of the tongue
The width of the tongue varied from 2.9 cm to 4.8 cm with a mean and standard deviation of 3.599 ± 0.4268 cm [Table 1]. The highest value was 4.8 cm seen in male, i.e., male have a wider tongue in comparison with female [Table 3] and [Figure 5].
Length of the tongue
The length of the tongue varied from 3.0 cm to 5.7 cm with a mean and standard deviation of 4.283 ± 0.6543 cm [Table 1]. The highest value was 5.7 cm seen in male, i.e., male has longer tongue compared to female [Table 4] and [Figure 6].
Shape of the tongue
On examination of shape of the tongue, two types were looked for, U and V shape. The mean and standard deviation for the shape of the tongue were 3.00 ± 0.479 cm [Table 1]. It was noted that U shape was more common in both male (68%) and female (62%) and V shape was more common in female (38%) than male (32%) [Table 5] and [Figure 7].
| Discussion|| |
Tongue prints are unique characteristic information that is carried on the dorsum of the tongue. There is always a search for novel biometric tool that can be better than the one before owing to increasing identity fraud and a fear of threat to one's security. Each system currently in use as a biometric tool has its own disadvantages and is easily varied by its external environment, making it vulnerable alteration leading to hassle in identification or worse, security breach. The tongue being well protected within the oral cavity and as it is immune to forgery, it may meet the requirements of the uniqueness required by a biometric tool. The unambiguous features of the tongue cannot be reverse engineered, i.e., tongue verification protects the privacy of users better than other biometric methods currently in use, also the surface and the physiological characteristics remain constant.
The various characteristics of tongue like its color, shape, size, surface characteristics (fissures), wetness or moisture, and movement of the tongue can be used as parameters in assessing the uniqueness of tongue.,
According to the present study, the most distinctive feature on the surface of the tongue is fissures. When present, the central variety is the common pattern of fissure distribution seen in both male and female and horizontal type was the least common type in both male and female. On the assessment of the shape of the tongue, U shape was common in male and female. In a previous study by Jeddy et al., similar results were obtained on a study on 20 patients. The comparison of the size of tongue in male and female, male had longer and wider tongue in comparison with female. However, further studies on a larger group are required to standardize the value for both length and width of the tongue to be able to use this in identification of sex.
From this study, we can conclude that the morphological features like shape length and width as well the surface characteristics mainly the fissures show sexual dimorphism and can aid as a tool in forensics for identification of sex of the victim. However, further studies are essential to validate the use of tongue morphometry as well as tongue prints in individual identification in natural as well as manmade calamities.
There are various methods to collect tongue prints such as visual examination, digital photograph, alginate impression, and three-dimensional study. In the past 10 years, numerous authors have proposed various imaging systems for collecting tongue prints, the first one being Liu et al. Another study by Diwakar have devised a system for capturing the tongue prints having included a shape recognition feature and recognition of papillary distribution, which is considered as the most reliable study so far.
The morphological variations on the dorsum of the tongue, i.e., photographic evidence along with a lingual impression may serve as an aid in the identification of sex of an individual when used along with other methods such as cheiloscopy and rugoscopy.
Although studies on using tongue print as a biometric tool has reached a long way in other countries, still in India, it is yet to get the recognition it deserves.
| Conclusion|| |
The present study represents a preliminary method for analyzing the surface characteristics of the tongue by visual examination and to assess the difference in these characteristics in male and female in ethnic Tamil population. This simple method of recording the characteristics if tongue can be adopted as a chairside technique and can be stored along with other dental records. The surface characteristics of tongue show significant variations in male and female and could serve as an aid in sexual dimorphism. However, the evaluation of the reliability of using tongue morphometry in personal identification needs further research. Furthermore, alterations in tongue with aging or other systemic conditions may alter these characteristics. Further studies with a larger population are required to validate its use in forensics. Furthermore, further studies are required for establishing various methods to collect tongue prints as well as to assess whether tongue prints can aid in individual identification.
Ethical clearance was obtained from the Institutional Review Board of SRM Dental College, Ramapuram, Chennai.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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[Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7]
[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]