Respect Your Tongue

From translating information from food molecules into a “taste” we can sense to initiating the digestive process, your tongue is responsible for many processes we take for granted. Here are some “fun facts” about your tongue!

-The tongue is actually composed of several muscles anchored firmly at the back to the floor of the mouth. It does not impede swallowing because it is also connected in the front by a piece of tissue called the lingual frenulum.

-Possessing 3,000 to 10,000 taste buds containing taste receptors, the tongue provides you with the sense of taste. These taste buds are replaced every 10 to 14 days.

-The bumps you see on the surface of your tongue are called papillae. They are home to the taste buds, which are actually too tiny to see.

-The five “tastes” the tongue senses are salty, sour, bitter, sweet, and umami (aka, savory). Contrary to myth, all five taste sensations can be sensed anywhere on the tongue.

-The tongue contains eight muscles. Four are not attached to bone and allow you to point and roll your tongue. The remaining four muscles are attached to bone and are involved in actions like thrusting the tongue out or moving it from one side to the other.

-The average human tongue is four inches in length from the tip to the back.

-The ability to roll your tongue is not simply a genetic trait. Instead, it appears to result from both genetics and environmental factors.

-Your tongue can alert your dentist to health problems. A healthy tongue is pink, so a red or swollen tongue can signal allergies and infections. White patches could be a signal the presence of a fungal infection called “thrush.” And if your tongue is very, very smooth, you could be low on iron, folic acid or vitamin B12.

-Contrary to popular belief, the tongue is not the strongest muscle in your body. Your jaw muscles exert the most pressure, your quadriceps and gluteals produce the most force, and your heart does the most overall work. Still, your tongue muscle never gets “tired” and without it talking and eating would be difficult, to say the least.


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