How much do you know about your tongue? When we think of oral health, we may normally focus on our teeth and gums. However, it’s important to care for all aspects of your mouth, tongue included! Here are five fun and interesting facts about your gustatory system.
1. Brushing your tongue won’t help with bad breath.
According to the American Dental Association, there is no evidence that brushing your tongue (or using a tongue scraper) will help prevent bad breath or improve halitosis (chronic bad breath). The bacteria that cause breath can actually grow back just as quickly as it is removed, unfortunately.
2. The average tongue is 10 centimeters in length.
To clarify, that’s 10 centimeters from the back of the throat to the tip. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest tongue belongs to Californian Nick Stoeberl. Measuring 10.1cm (about 4 inches) from the tip to the middle of the closed top lip, the exposed part of his tongue is as long as an entire average tongue.
3. Your tongue has more than 2,000 tastebuds.
In fact, the average tongue can have anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 taste buds, but they don’t last long. Your taste buds die off and are replaced every 10 to 14 days.
4. Tongue piercings can be dangerous for your oral health.
If you’re considering piercing your tongue, cheeks, or lips, make sure you’ve got great oral health habits. Because your mouth contains millions of bacteria, it’s easy for new piercings to get infected and swell (which, in a worst-case-scenario, can cut off your airways). The jewelry itself is a choking hazard and can chip teeth if you accidentally bite down on it too hard.
5. Taste buds are tools for survival.
Your taste buds allow you to enjoy your favorite dishes, but they also help keep you alive. According to an article from Women’s Health, taste buds tell your brain whether or not it’s safe to swallow what’s in your mouth. Babies are born preferring sweet foods because their brains recognize the natural sugar as fuel, whereas bitter tastes are associated with poison. You can always try telling your mom this fact when you don’t want to eat your vegetables, but we can’t guarantee it will work!