Much attention is paid to your teeth and gums when speaking of your dental health, but your tongue plays many roles in your mouth’s function and health, as well. Without it, you would be unable to speak or eat, yet many people take their tongue for granted. To celebrate its importance, we explore a few not-very-well-known facts about the human tongue.
Fun Tongue Facts
- Although small enough to fit comfortably in your mouth, the tongue is considered the human body’s strongest muscle. It is also the human body’s only open-ended muscle (connected at only one end).
- The average person has about 10,000 taste buds strewn across the surfaces of the mouth. Only 8,000 of these are found on top of the tongue, with the remaining 2,000 dispersed under the tongue and along the inside of the cheeks, on the roof of the mouth, and on the lips.
- A single taste bud contains between 50-100 different cells, but can only sense one flavor. In other words, no single taste bud can determine both sweet and bitter tastes.
- Your tongue never stops working. As you sleep, it continues to guide saliva into the throat. The tongue also heals faster than any other tissue in your body.
- Along with your taste buds, the surface of your tongue plays host to a few other things, mainly bacteria. At any given moment, there are about 10-15 billion bacteria in your mouth. Almost half of these live on your tongue. Luckily, the majority of these microbes are harmless, and some even help regulate a healthy oral environment.
- Your tongue is a unique instrument. Its size, shape, and placement of taste buds are peculiar and as individual as your fingerprints are.