It’s been used as a trope in movies, and there are martial arts speculation that biting your own tongue off will kill you, but has there ever been a documented case of someone biting straight through their own tongue? Not cutting or ripping it out, but biting it off.
I’ve heard of this happening in accidents. Could have happened to me in a bike accident when I was kid, luckily instead I just knocked half my teeth out. It would be a pretty freak accident to bite off more than just the tip of your tongue. I don’t see how you could bite your entire tongue off, nor how it could be fatal other than bleeding to death.
I once watched a YouTube video of a guy having a grand mal seizure. He had bitten his tongue rather severely, and blood was pouring out of his mouth in disturbingly large quantities. He may not have bitten it off, but I have no doubt that he required numerous stitches to repair the damage.
I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be possible to bite completely through your own tongue. At a loss as to whether such a wound could be fatal though; there are some sizable blood vessels in the tongue, but I don’t think it would be the same as slicing a carotid/brachial/femoral artery.
I was in an airplane crash decades ago, and bit a hole thru the center of my tongue.
And as a physician, I’ve treated a few dozen significant tongue lacerations caused by people biting their own tongue.
But it’s less common (tho not unheard of) to sever a piece of the tongue right off.
Risk of death from such an injury would come mainly from aspirating and choking on the tongue fragment, or being unconscious and drowning in the blood leaking out as it ran into the trachea. I’m sure that’s happened too, but it’s a small, small fraction of total tongue injuries.
Although not exactly the same, in Silence of the Lambs Hannibal Lector has the guy in the next cell (Miggs?) “swallow his tongue” which caused his death. Is that even possible? How can you swallow your tongue? Is it a irreversible action, such that once you start you can’t get it pulled back in time? Any documented cases of this? Thanks!
When I was in grade school, a girl had a seizure and swallowed her tongue. The school nurse pulled it out, and the girl survived.
Further to the “swallowing your own tongue” issue, is it even possible without having had it, or a bit of it, severed first?
I was in a head on crash many years ago, and no seat belts.
I hit the steering wheel and then the windshield. Along with just about ripping my jaw off, my teeth went through a good part of my tongue, about an inch from the tip.
Recouperation was very unpleasant, and I still get nightmares thinking about biting my tongue right off.
According to WebMD and many other sources, swallowing your tongue is a myth.
It’s a colloquial term for blocking your air passage with your tongue. You can easily replicate the situation yourself by touching the roof of your mouth with the tip of your tongue, and moving it back as far as you can, then try to breathe through your mouth. At least when I do this, I can’t breathe.
Your tongue isn’t actually being swallowed, but it is moving toward your throat as if you are trying to swallow it.
Zeno of Elea supposedly bit off his own tongue, but that could easily be myth.
Children who are born without the ability to feel pain often chew pieces off of their tongues. Very sad.
As a teen I worked in a ski shop. One of the guys I worked with happened to have his tongue out while he was skiing fast, when he hit a mogul just wrong. Nearly bit his tongue off. He said it hurt, and there was a lot of blood.
My mother had a partial glossectomy due to oral cancer. A graft (from her arm muscle) was used to restore some of the missing tissue but there is some loss of muscle control and taste. When she came back from the hospital, she told me a story told to her by one of the nurses. Another patient with a similar surgery was being fed yogurt and commented to the nurse that he noticed it was peach yogurt, as he noticed the texture. It wasn’t peach yogurt and I suppose you can guess what was going on.
By the way, my mother’s loss of muscle control in her mouth makes it a little different for her when food is stuck in her mouth, like behind the gums.
In seizures, if tongue biting occurs (it’s actually not that common), the bite always occurs on the side of the tongue. In fact, the presence of a fresh bite mark on the side of the tongue in a patient who lost consciousness and now can’t remember (or reliably tell you) what happened, can be taken as proof that they had a seizure.
ETA: I forgot to say that although biting on the side of the tongue can be very bloody, by definition (and anatomy!) the tongue doesn’t get bitten off.