Did you know that only some people can fold it? And that no two are the same? We tell you these and other curiosities about the language.
Last update: 02 February, 2022
It helps us to speak, eat, chew, identify tastes and even to kiss with passion… We tell you 8 curiosities about the language, a very important organ for our body.
It is that, although we do not have it in mind, the language intervenes in many of the activities that we carry out every day. And for this it needs to be of a certain shape and have specific characteristics. Some very curious, by the way.
Given its importance, it deserves care that we sometimes overlook. Keep reading and find out these curiosities about the tongue and how to keep it healthy.
What is language?
Before telling you about its curiosities, we are going to clarify what the language is. It is an organ made up of several muscles. It is strong, flexible and has great mobility.
Its appearance is pink and its upper face has the peculiarity of having a velvety appearance. It is covered by a special mucosa that gives it moisture. This feature allows it to fulfill several of its functions.
Among his most important roles chewing, bolus formation, swallowing and language are highlighted. It is also responsible for the perception of taste, texture and temperature of food. It also intervenes in the body’s defenses by having lymphatic tissue inside.
Its parts are divided into the following sectors:
Upper or dorsal surface.
Inferior or ventral surface.
base of the tongue
On its surface it has small bumps that are the lingual papillae. There are 4 types:
Filiform: they are the most numerous, responsible for the velvety texture of the tongue. They do not capture the taste, but they are in charge of the sense of touch to recognize the texture of what we eat.
Fungiform: they are shaped like mushrooms and have sensory properties. They get the taste. They are found mostly in the anterior portion of the tongue.
Foliated: They are located on the sides of the tongue. They are responsible for draining saliva and participate in the self-cleaning of the organ. In addition, they perceive taste.
Ring roads: also called goblet, produce saliva and are located in a V shape on the base of the tongue, that is, in the most posterior sector. They also catch the taste.
Below the tongue is the lingual frenulum. It is a membranous structure that joins the organ with the floor of the mouth, serving as fixation.
Now that you know what it is about, find out these curiosities about the language.
1. Fast healing
Although biting your tongue is a fairly common and very annoying situation, These injuries usually heal quickly. Is that one of the curiosities about the tongue is its speed to heal.
Wounds, sores and small lesions on its surface disappear in a short time thanks to the tissues that make it up and constant contact with saliva.
In general, Superficial injuries heal after a few days. The deepest do not persist for more than 3 weeks.
You should be on the lookout for tongue injuries that do not close. Well, they can be an indication that something is not right and you should consult a health professional.
2. Don’t get tired
One of the curiosities about language is that this organ does not tire or fatigue. And that despite being in constant motion.
The tongue moves much of the day to eat, speak and swallow. And even if it doesn’t wear out, it’s not the strongest muscle in the body as some say. The jaw muscles exert greater pressure; the glutes and quadriceps do more force. And the heart is the one that works the most.
In addition, as we already anticipated, the tongue is not a single muscle. It is made up of 17 different muscles that work together. From the interrelation of these threads, a flexible, mobile and highly resistant matrix arises.
3. It has more than 10,000 taste buds
taste buds They are a group of sensory receptors that allow us to perceive taste. They cannot be seen with the naked eye. Well, they are tiny in size and are found within the lingual papillae.
Therefore, the papillae that we mentioned when describing the tongue, which are seen as bumps on the lingual surface, are not the taste buds. But they contain them.
A person can have up to 10,000 taste buds. The same They are changed approximately every 2 weeks.
As they age, some do not regenerate, decreasing their number. Elderly people can have between 2 and 5 thousand functioning taste buds. This explains why children perceive taste differently than adults.
You should know that, thanks to the taste buds, it is possible to distinguish the taste of food, but not its flavor. For this, smell is necessary. From the combination of taste and smell comes the real flavor of food. That’s why, with colds, some foods can feel bland.
The tongue is commonly divided into different areas that perceive different tastes. But the truth is that all tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami) can be felt on all parts of the tongue.
It is true that most taste buds are located on the tongue. But there are other parts of the body that have them too. Taste receptors have been found in the back of the throat, in the epiglottis, sinuses, and nose. Babies and young children perceive taste through the mucous membranes of their lips and cheeks.
4. Every language is unique
No two languages are the same. We all have a unique language, different from that of the others. Their grooves, some congenital and others acquired, make these differences exist.
Therefore, just like fingerprints, the appearance of the tongue could be used as an element of personal identification.
5. Not everyone can fold it
60% of the population is able to fold their tongue into a “U” shape. And it’s not about practice or skill. This ability is due to genetics.
The presence of a dominant gene is what allows this action to be carried out. And another gene is the one that prevents other people from achieving it.
The size of the tongue varies between people. It is measured from the epiglottis (cartilage at the back of the tongue) to its tip. On average, in an adult person it is 8.5 cm long.
Women tend to have shorter tongues than men. The world record for the longest tongue in the world is 10.1 cm and belongs to an American man.
7. The tongue can get fat
This is another of the curiosities of the language. There is a correlation between the volume of fat in the tongue and obesity. By gaining weight, this organ also fattens.
Also, a large tongue could be associated with obstructive sleep apnea disorder. This condition, in which breathing stops for a moment while sleeping, is very common in obese people.
8. The appearance of the tongue can indicate health problems
A healthy tongue looks pink with little bumps sticking out. But if its appearance changes, it swells or it hurts it can be a sign that something is wrong with your body.
If you notice something strange on your tongue, the ideal is to go to your dentist or doctor to find the cause of the problem and seek a prompt solution. These are some of the changes that may indicate a health problem:
White spots: They may be due to oral candidiasis or leukoplakia, which is very common in smokers and a precursor to oral cancer. If the spots are linear, it may be oral lichen planus, a chronic condition associated with stress, and other causes.
Red color: it may be due to allergies or a lack of vitamin B12 or folic acid. It can also be a symptom of scarlet fever or Kawasaki disease. These disorders, more common in children, present other manifestations that accompany the picture and must be treated immediately by a doctor.
Hairy tongue: It is a tongue that looks like hairy, brown, black or white. The lingual papillae increase in length and become covered with bacteria that become pigmented. It is due to poor dental hygiene and is associated with diabetics, who take antibiotics or undergo chemotherapy.
Smooth surface: a soft tongue without papillae can indicate a lack of iron, folic acid or B complex vitamins. It can also be due to mycosis, celiac disease or the use of some medications.
Painful lumps: They can be due to a virus, a wound or thrush. Also oral cancer, especially if it lasts more than two weeks without curing.
Increase in size: a swollen tongue or macroglossia may indicate hypothyroidism, infection, allergies, or inflammatory conditions.
The importance of taking care of the tongue
As we told you, the language plays a fundamental role in carrying out many important activities such as eating and speaking. In order for these functions to be performed smoothly, The care of this organ is paramount.
Cleaning your tongue every day helps keep it healthy. Well, otherwise, the accumulation of bacteria on its surface can lead to the installation of several problems: bad breath, changes in taste, changes in the normal flora of the mouth, development of mycosis or coated tongue are examples.
Here are some tips to keep your tongue clean and healthy:
Oral hygiene: tooth brushing, flossing and tongue cleaning should be part of the daily hygiene routine. This helps remove bacteria and food debris from the mouth.
Use a scraper: It is a tool that allows you to scrape the surface of the tongue and remove the residue that accumulates there. Movements should be made from back to front, exerting light pressure, repeating them several times. If it is not possible to obtain this element, it must be done with a brush.
Observe the tongue: sticking out the tongue and checking its appearance and cleanliness helps improve hygiene and monitor its health.
Use mouthwashes: Using a mouthwash with fluoride at the end of the oral hygiene routine helps protect the mouth against bacterial plaque and provides fresh breath.
To visit the dentist: semi-annual visits to the dentist help to control that everything is going well.
Including tongue cleaning in your oral hygiene routine is easy and will allow you to take care of your health. In addition, you can count on this organ to carry out the activities of your daily life without problems.
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About The Author
Catherine A. Johnson