Your tongue is a weird and wonderful organ. You use it to talk, eat, and swallow. And, since it’s where your taste buds are located, it lets you taste all the delicious things you consume. We thought we’d help you appreciate it a little more by sharing some fun and interesting facts about your tongue.
Be sure to wow your friends by telling them some of these facts about your tongue! And then, if you really want to get crazy, check out some fascinating facts about your teeth, too!
Fun Facts About Your Tongue
- The average adult male tongue is 3.3 inches long and the average adult female tongue is 3.1 inches long. Tongues are officially measured from the tip back to the epiglottis, which is a flap of cartilage at the back of the tongue.
- The longest tongue in the Guinness Book of World Records is 3.97 inches long, found in the mouth of a guy named Nick Stoeberl.
- Your tongue has between 2,000 and 4,000 taste buds on it.
- You can’t actually see taste buds by the naked human eye. All those little bumps that many people believe to be their taste buds are actually hairlike projections called papillae. Each one has an average of six taste buds just below its surface.
- Those seven to 12 big round bumps in a V shape at the back of your tongue are one type of papillae, called circumvallate papillae. The other two smaller types are called fungiform and foliate papillae.
- You do have taste buds in other places besides on your tongue! Some are found on your epiglottis, in the back of your throat, in your nose and sinuses, and even down into the upper portion of your esophagus.
- The idea that tongues have different zones for detecting different tastes is a myth. You can sense each of the five tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and “umami”) on all areas of your tongue. However, the back of the tongue is more sensitive to bitter tastes.
- The tongue is composed of eight individual, intertwined muscles. They’re the only muscles in your body that function independent of your bones. Because it’s not a single muscle as many people believe, that common assertion that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body isn’t technically true.
- Your tongue can accumulate fat when you gain weight. This may be one reason obese individuals with larger tongues are more susceptible to obstructive sleep apnea.
- Your tongue print is as unique to you as your fingerprints are. In fact, researchers are trying to develop technology to use the tongue for biometric identification.
- Tongues can provide important clues to your health. That’s why your doctor asks you to stick it out and say “Ahhhh.” For example, a bright red tongue can indicate certain nutritional deficiencies or diseases; white spots or a white coating can point to an oral yeast infection or leukoplakia; a black or hairy tongue can indicate a bacterial infection, diabetes, or other conditions; and painful bumps can be canker sores or even oral cancer.