Anatomy & Organs

Arteria sublingualis – structure, function & diseases

Sublingual artery

One of the numerous blood vessels in the human head is the sublingual artery , which originates in the lingual artery (lingual artery ). It ensures the blood supply to the floor of the mouth and the salivary glands. Isolated injuries to the sublingual artery can occur, for example, when getting a tongue piercing, with the extent of this complication depending on the specific damage.

What is the sublingual artery?

The sublingual artery is an artery that runs through the human head through the lower jaw area . It branches off the lingual artery, also known as the hyoid artery, to which the Latin name sublingual artery refers: it is located below (“sub-”) the larger artery and below the tongue (“lingua”).

In addition to the sublingual artery, the lingual artery has three other branches, which are the profunda linguae artery, the dorsal lingual branch and the suprahyoid branch. The sublingual artery in turn originates from the external carotid artery (Arteria carotis externa), which is one of the most important blood vessels of the head and neck.

Anatomy & Structure

The sublingual artery occurs as a branch of the lingual artery. The sublingual artery branches off from the larger blood vessel at the hyoglossus muscle , a muscle of the tongue. From there it runs past the mylohyoid muscle to the salivary gland ( sublingual gland ), which is located in the area of ​​the lower jaw under the tongue. Then the sublingual arteries on the right and left sides converge.The wall of the sublingual artery, like all arteries, consists of three layers. The tunica externa or tunica adventitia embodies the outermost layer and, in larger arteries, also contains the vasa vasorum, which are responsible for supplying the vessel walls. Below the tunica externa is the tunica media, which contains collagen and elastic fibers as well as the musculature of the artery. These ring-shaped muscles serve to control blood flow and are able to narrow or widen the vessel. Finally, the tunica intima forms the innermost layer of the artery.

Toward the interior, it is lined with a layer of endothelial cells. They can affect coagulation processes and serve as a blood-tissue barrier, allowing a small amount of exchange between the substances. In addition, the endothelial cells participate in the regulation of blood pressure and vascular tone.

Function & Tasks

The task of the sublingual artery is to supply blood to the salivary glands in the lower jaw, the gums and the floor of the mouth. In the floor of the mouth, muscles depend on energy, oxygen, and other nutrients from the sublingual artery.

Also known as the superior hyoid muscles or suprahyoid muscles, the floor of the mouth muscles are part of the striated skeletal muscles . It consists of the digastric , geniohyoid , mylohyoid and stylohyoid muscles . These muscles are involved on the one hand in swallowing and on the other hand in opening the jaw, with the individual muscles working together in a coordinated manner.

In addition, the sublingual artery also supplies the oral mucosa , which also belongs to the floor of the mouth. The various cells of the epithelium perform different tasks and vary in their structure: The oral mucosa on the floor of the mouth belongs to the lining of the oral mucosa and is not keratinized. Its structural properties give this layer a high level of elasticity, which the oral mucosa of the floor of the mouth needs due to the chewing movements and the associated mechanical stress.

Receptors for sensory perception are also located in the oral mucosa in order to record pain stimuli, temperature and pressure sensations and pass them on to the peripheral nervous system. Cornified plates do not occur in the lining oral mucosa but in the masticatory oral mucosa, while cells of the specialized oral mucosa participate in gustatory function.

Oxygen – rich blood from the sublingual artery is vital for the cells: If the blood supply is interrupted for a long time, the cells can therefore die. Among other things, they need the oxygen to produce chemically bound energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). During aerobic respiration, the body uses oxygen to oxidize glucose to produce ATP. The energy source is then available to the cell for numerous metabolic processes.


Because the sublingual artery is a small blood vessel, isolated injuries that do not involve other structures in the head are rare.However , a lesion involving only the sublingual artery is possible with a tongue piercing. Often the tongue swells immediately after being stung. Other complications of getting a tongue piercing include damage to other blood vessels, nerve tracts, gums, and teeth . Problems from choking , biting, inflammation, infection from improper sterilization, and allergies are also conceivable. Serious complications are generally considered rare; In individual cases, however, an injury to the blood vessels in the tongue can lead to severe bleeding with significant blood loss.

Bleeding from the sublingual artery may affect the muscles that rely on the blood vessel for its supply. These muscles are the suprahyoid muscles, which are active in swallowing and opening the jaw.

Tongue carcinomas in the vicinity of the sublingual artery can sometimes affect the blood vessel. Tongue carcinoma is a new growth that is usually malignant and is a form of cancer . Various factors influence the development of tongue carcinoma; it occurs more frequently with alcohol , nicotine and oral drug use and can develop in different places on the tongue.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.