Earlier this month, we noted #StickOutYourTongueDay and actually ENCOURAGED you to stick out your tongue to us! And while some folks may take offense at this action, in Tibet, you can merrily stick your tongue out at others and not be considered rude or childish. In Tibet, it's actually a greeting!
So let's take a closer look at your tongue. Everyone has heard the expression "tongue in cheek" – used to signify that the speaker has made an ironic or joking comment. In fact, the saying originated in England in the 1800s and is attributed to Sir Walter Scott!
While the tongue can be used to imply that whatever was said should be taken with a "grain of salt" it can also be called one of the hardest-working muscles in your body…
And today we're taking a look inside to find out what ELSE your tongue can do!
- At birth, the tongue is the ONLY fully-developed organ, since it is vital for a baby to be able to suck!
- The tongue is all muscle, but not just one muscle – it's made up of 8 DIFFERENT MUSCLES that intertwine with each other to create a flexible matrix, much like an elephant's trunk. It's called a muscular hydrostat, and the tongue muscles are the ONLY muscles in the human body that work independently of the skeleton, and the ONLY one attached at only one end!
- Thanks to its extreme agility and flexibility, it can produce more than 90 WORDS per minute.
- A gentleman named Thomas Blackstone holds the record for the strongest tongue, lifting a 20 pound, 3 ounce weight hooked through his tongue!
- The longest tongue measured was 3.86 inches from back to front and the widest on record 3.1 inches at the widest point.
- Our tongue is the only muscle in our body that is capable of sensing taste and sending taste signals to the brain, with each individual taste bud carrying about 15 receptacles responsible for carrying taste signals to our brain.
- Each of those taste buds has between 50 and 100 taste sensing cells, but NO individual cell is capable of tasting more than one taste.
- Because each tongue varies with the individual, each is as unique as a fingerprint – imagine if we took "tongue prints!"
- There are between 9,000 and 10,000 taste buds in the average human mouth – but not all of them reside on your tongue! Approximately 10% live on your cheeks and palette, with even a few UNDER your tongue and on your lips.
- Those taste buds have an average lifespan of only 10 days.
- We have four basic types of taste buds: salt and sweet can be found at the tip of the tongue, while sour is along the sides and bitter sits at the base. A Japanese researcher discovered a fifth type in 1908, called umami (savory) which the chemical MSG is responsible for!
- About one-quarter of the population is considered "supertasters," people with a heightened sense of taste – particularly for bitter foods and specifically a bitter compound called 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) – while another quarter is considered "nontasters," who can taste foods, but are less sensitive and cannot detect the bitter taste of PROP.
- The tongue and taste buds do not work alone in determining how a food tastes – your nose is their partner, which is why foods do not taste the same if you have a cold. You can also play a trick on your tongue: put something sweet in your mouth while smelling an onion! Your saliva is also key in tasting foods – your taste buds CANNOT work unless the food is dissolved in your saliva or water, which is why we taste salty flavors first, since they dissolve most quickly!
- Not only do your taste buds take up real estate on your tongue…so do nearly 50% of the BACTERIA that live in your mouth!
- This accounts for the dreaded "morning breath" since the bacteria have taken up residence – and some died overnight – on your tongue. If your partner suffers from halitosis, suggest a good tongue brushing!
- Not only will you make your partner and coworkers happier if you brush your tongue, it can ALSO help prevent heart attacks, pneumonia, osteoporosis, premature births, diabetes and infertility in men.
- You may not know that your tongue can provide indicators of your OVERALL health!
- Included among these signs: a bright red tongue may be a sign of folic acid or B12 deficiency, scarlet fever, or Kawasaki disease (a serious condition seen in children); white spots or a white coating on the tongue could indicate oral thrush (a type of yeast infection), or leukoplakia (which can be a precursor to cancer); a black, hairy tongue can be a sign of bacterial overgrowth, and can also occur in people with diabetes or those on antibiotics or chemotherapy; and painful bumps on the tongue may be canker sores (mouth ulcers), or oral cancer.
- Stop worrying about whether your jeans make you look fat, and take a look at your TONGUE. If you get fat, so does your tongue! The human tongue has a high percentage of fat, with a direct connection between tongue fat volume and obesity. A study in the journal Sleep showed that having a larger tongue with higher levels of fat might be a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea (a serious sleep disorder in which a person repeatedly stops and starts breathing while sleeping)!
So, the next time you feel like giving your tongue a workout, try the world’s most difficult tongue-twister: The sixth sick sheihk’s sixth sheep’s sick! Or, better yet, bring your tongue for a visit to Best Choice Dental…it’s a LOT easier!