A tongue depressor (sometimes called spatula) is a tool used in medical practice to depress the tongue to allow for examination of the mouth and throat. The most common modern tongue depressors are flat, thin, wooden blades, smoothed and rounded at both ends, but, historically, tongue depressors have been made of a variety of materials. Since they are inexpensive and difficult to clean because of their porous texture, wooden tongue depressors are labeled for disposal after a single usage.
A tongue depressor may be inserted over the tongue to facilitate insertion of an oral airway and prevent downfolding of the tongue, which could impair venous and lymphatic drainage, causing tongue swelling and airway obstruction.
Hobbyists and teachers have found a multitude of uses for tongue depressors (sometimes called "craft sticks", "popsicle sticks", or "icy pole sticks") in their projects. Tongue depressors may be used to form so-called "stick bombs".
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