Tongue Depressor: Characteristics, Types And Functions

A tongue depressor or tongue depressor, also known as a tongue depressor, is a simple medical instrument used to inspect a patient’s mouth and throat.

It has a standard size, it is generally made of wood, disposable and despite being used mainly for the action that we have just indicated, it also has other uses.

Its size is universally standardized and is 15 centimeters long, but the width can vary between 1.6 and 2.3 cm.

In addition to tongue depressor or tongue depressor, another name by which it is known is tongue depressor, but this is more used in technical jargon and is not as widely heard in everyday speech as those mentioned.

Its use is completely medicinal, either for the review of patients as well as to give first aid to one in case of fracture or dislocation.



They are the most common and also cheap. Both ends are rounded and are disposable. The best quality are those that are made of Canadian poplar wood called “populus Canadis”.

It is used for having a resistant fiber but at the same time a soft texture for the touch with the mouth and lips. It has no taste or odor or contains resins.


They are usually colored and are used in pediatrics but also in children’s speech therapy, since being colorful they give another impression to young patients.

With flavors

They are used mostly in pediatrics to inspect children’s mouths. These have pleasant flavors (like strawberry or mint) and usually have an animal or cartoon shape at one end.

Stainless steel

They are called Tolbot, they have a handle and are used mostly in surgical procedures.


Oral exam

It is the most common function. The medical professional should always use disposable gloves, latex gloves (recommended) and also a small flashlight to inspect the walls of the mouth, palate and throat.

With this, it is possible to observe the regions of the tonsils and pharynx, and in order not to cause gagging in the examinee, the instrument should not be placed too far back on the tongue.

In fractures or dislocations

Of course, its size is only useful for small limbs, such as the fingers of the hands and always in first aid, since a splint or appropriate cast will be placed later. Usually one or two are used to immobilize the injured part.

Oral hygiene of an unconscious person

To clean the mouth area in patients who are unconscious, professionals use this tool while cleaning gums, tongue, lips and palate.

Vomit inducer

Taking it to the back of the throat produces the patient’s gag and vomiting. This is used in case of poisoning.

Eyelid evaluation

Through them it is possible to detect diseases and to avoid causing a possible infection the tongue depressor is used.

Laboratory exams

This tool is used to handle different types of samples, such as fecal material.

Bite exercises

They are used in pediatric dentistry for those patients who must correct the bite, such as the anterior crusade.

Reflex check

It is done mostly in newborns to check that their entire nervous system is healthy. Among a large series of tests, there are two that have the tongue depressor as the protagonist: pharyngeal reflex, the posterior wall of the pharynx is stimulated with it; and the velopalatine reflex, the free edge of the soft palate is stimulated.


  1. Cristina Sánchez Jiménez. (2014). «Hygienic care» . Recovered from:
  2. Latin American Journal of Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry. (2015). “Use of the Bite Block in the treatment of anterior crossbite in primary and mixed dentition”. Recovered from:
  3. Tongue depressor (2019). BBVA Foundation. Recovered from:
  4. Juan Lois Guerra. (2018). «Manuel de Fisoterapia» . Recovered from:
  5. Horacio Jinich. (2017). “Cardinal Symptoms and Signs of Disease” . Recovered from:

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *