How much do you know about your tongue? Sure, it’s important for speaking and for removing food stuck in between your teeth. However, this fascinating organ is one of the most important parts of your mouth. Here are some little-known facts about your tongue.
1. Your Tongue Has 8 Muscles
Your tongue is one of the most flexible parts of your body, thanks to the eight muscles it contains. However, the idea that it’s the strongest muscle in the body is just a myth. That honor belongs to the quads and glutes.
2. No Saliva, No Taste
Did you know that without saliva, the taste buds on your tongue couldn’t do their job? That’s right. Saliva is necessary to help flavors bind to the receptor molecules. Your tongue is also partially responsible for producing saliva, through the submandibular glands at its base.
3. Your Taste Buds Die and Are Replaced
The tongue can have as few as 2,000 or as many as 10,000 taste buds. However, they’re not permanent. Some of them die off every week and are replaced with new ones. They’re also located all over the tongue, and the idea that different areas of the tongue correspond to salty, sweet, sour, and bitter tastes is just a myth. Every part of the tongue can taste all tastes.
4. The Color of Your Tongue Says a Lot About Your Health
A normal, healthy tongue is pink. However, if your tongue is red, it’s a sign that you may be suffering from allergies or an infection. White patches on the tongue often indicate a fungal overgrowth, while blistering is usually a sign of an allergic reaction (blood pressure medicines can also cause your tongue to blister).
5. Your Tongue Is a Haven for Bacteria
If you look closely at your tongue, you’ll see that it’s covered by tiny bumps called papillae. That’s completely normal, but it also makes your tongue a perfect home for bacteria. The best way to deal with them is to brush your tongue whenever you brush your teeth. Note that a tongue that’s too smooth (missing a lot of papillae) is an indication that you’re deficient in folic acid.
6. You Can Store Fat in Your Tongue
Recent studies have shown that the tongue stores fat much like other parts of the body. This can lead to a larger-than-normal tongue and increase your risk of sleep apnea due to obstruction by the tongue.
The Amazing, Essential Tongue
Your tongue is one of the most important parts of your mouth, and yet it’s often overlooked when it comes to oral care. Vital for speaking, essential for tasting, and irreplaceable, the tongue deserves a little TLC.
You should brush your tongue twice a day, just like your teeth. You should also keep an eye on its color and texture for clues to other health conditions. Regular visits to your doctor will help ensure that you’re able to keep your tongue, teeth, and gums in good health.