When most people think of oral health, the first things to come to mind are teeth and gums. Since there is so much to know about those two elements of your mouth, people rarely think to include the tongue in that category. The truth is, without your tongue, daily tasks like talking and eating would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. If you’ve ever undergone sedation dentistry, you may remember the difficulty with which you spoke while your mouth was still numb and your tongue unable to move properly. Aside from allowing us to eat and communicate, you tongue can be pretty interesting when you get to know it. To honor the human body’s strongest muscle, Des Moines dentist Dr. Stephen Burds lists interesting tongue facts you should know.
Fun Tongue Facts
- On average, women have shorter tongues than men. The longest female tongue on record was 2.76 inches long, while the longest tongue recorded for men is 3.86 inches.
- The strongest tongue on record, belonging to a man named Thomas Blackstone, was able to lift a 24 lb 3 oz weight using a hook.
- The blue whale has a tongue that is the size of an elephant and weights 5,400 lbs.
- There is no scientific basis for the myth that a dog’s tongue is cleaner than a human’s. The mouths of dogs and humans have an equal amount of bacteria, and a dog’s mouth contains several different families of bacteria that can make you sick.
- Sweet, sour, bitter, salty…and umami? That’s right, a fifth taste, umami, was identified in 1908 by a Japanese researcher. The chemical monosodium glutamate is responsible for its presence.
- “Cat got your tongue?” is a phrase that originated 2500 years ago, when criminals and conquered soldiers in Assyria had their tongues removed and fed to the king’s cats.
- Your tongue is not only important, it’s unique. Because tongues have different shapes, sizes, and number of taste buds, your tongue print is as original as your fingerprint.
One last interesting fact about your tongue; tests on identical twins have proven that the ability to roll your tongue into a tube is not hereditary. If you’d like to learn more about different facets of your oral health, or to would like to schedule a consultation, contact Dr. Burds at Gateway Dental Group at (515) 244-9565. We welcome patients from River Bend, Kirkwood Glen, East Village, and neighboring communities.