Tongue facts, everyone! The tongue is perhaps the strangest and most useful muscle in the human body. Every day we employ it for various duties with hardly a second thought: licking, chewing and sucking, speaking, tasting, swallowing and even (ahem) kissing. Such a wonderfully versatile instrument deserves it’s due; hence the following list of six facts celebrating the tongue.
The Tongue is a Muscle
The tongue is a special group of muscles called a muscular hydrostat. This means that, like an elephant’s trunk and octopus’ tentacles, your tongue operates without help from your skeletal structure.
The Tongue Has Taste, Bud
Not all taste buds are located on your tongue. About 10% of them are found on your cheeks and the roof of your mouth. Also, the bumps on your tongue aren’t the actual taste buds. They’re called papillae, and they house your taste buds (which can’t be seen) and help anchor the mucous membrane to the tongue.
The Tongue Is Home For Bacteria
Almost 50% of the bacteria in your mouth sits on your tongue. The small spaces between papillae (see above) are great places for little bits of food to catch in between, particularly toward the back of the tongue. This is what causes bad breath, and it’s why it’s important to brush your tongue as well as your teeth.
The Tongue, Pierced
Tongue piercing is an ancient practice with deeply spiritual origins. In modern times it’s become faddish, but there are serious oral health dangers associated with tongue piercing, including chipped teeth and nerve damage (can you tell I’m not a fan?).
The Tongue Is Twisted
The tongue is crucial to speech, interacting with the teeth and lips to provide physical context for the sounds made by the throat. Without the tongue we would have no t’s, d’s, l’s or the famous rolled ‘r’.