Tongue Talk: Fun Facts About Your 8-Muscle Organ

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Despite its size (average of 3 inches or so), the tongue is an important organ of our body. Believe it or not, there are 8 different muscles that help the tongue to move. Unlike other muscles in our body, like our bicep or quads, the tongue muscles don’t have a supporting bone that runs through it. And although your tongue isn’t the strongest muscle in your body, it never fatigues or gets tired. Maybe if it did, it would be easier to stop eating because our “tongue is tired”!

There are lots of jobs that a tongue does that we don’t think about on a daily basis. It is comprised of anywhere between 2,000 and 10,000 taste buds, which help us to taste things that are sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami (or savory). The tongue then sends those signals to the brain, allowing us to recognize different tastes. Have you ever had a cold and couldn’t taste your food properly? That’s because taste and smell are closely connected so our taste buds don’t work as well when we can’t smell. Can you imagine not being able to taste all the time? It would probably be easier to eat healthier If kale tasted the same as Oreos, but different tastes and flavors give pleasure to eating different foods, which is what makes food so enjoyable.

Besides taste, the tongue is important for chewing, swallowing, speech and making saliva. Our tongue is a voluntary muscle, which means we can control the movement of it. Some people (only about 15% of us) have the ability to twist their tongues into a cloverleaf, and about 84% of us can curl our tongue. Don’t feel badly if you can’t do either- it’s completely genetic whether you can do these things or not!

So next time you eat, talk or taste, remember to thank your tongue for helping! If you would like to schedule a visit or speak with our Queen City Dental Arts team in Charlotte, North Carolina, call 704-542-6533 today. Our skilled dentist, Dr. Meghan Stenvall is happy to assist you with all of your dental health needs!

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