5 Surprising Facts About Your Tongue
Perhaps one of the more underrated members of our oral anatomy, the tongue is an incredibly important part of normal function. All it takes is one swollen, painful bump on your tongue to start noticing just how much you use your tongue on a daily basis. We promise you, the tongue is more interesting than you realize; here are 5 surprising facts you may not have known about your tongue:
The tongue is actually made up of eight different muscles.
The tongue is made up of eight interwoven muscles that work together. This mix of muscles is the reason your tongue can move so freely, although is attached at its base to the hyoid bone at the back of the throat. Although it is attached to the hyoid bone at the base, the tongue is actually the only muscle that moves independently of the skeletal system: other muscles attach to the skeletal system at both ends of the muscle (insertion and origin)!
Those bumps are not really your taste buds.
The belief that all those tiny bumps on your tongue are taste buds is not true, but not entirely false either. The bumps are called papillae, and are a very useful part of tongue anatomy. They assist in virtually every part of normal function: speech, chewing, swallowing, and tasting your food. Although they are not your taste buds, they house them.
Tastebuds are too miniscule to be seen by the naked eye, and your tongue has more than 6,000 of them! The taste buds are located on the papilla, which is why the assumption that the bumps (or papilla) are the actual taste bud is not that far off!
Your tongue may be the cause of your bad breath.
The tongue can house bad-breath causing bacteria. There can be many contributing factors to bad breath, such as poor oral hygiene, what you ate for lunch, or oral disease, but one of the easiest ways to prevent bad breath is to take care of your tongue, which leads us to the next point…..
You can clean your tongue.
Cleaning your tongue has many benefits besides eliminating bad breath. Anything you do to lower the bacterial load in your mouth will help fight off oral disease. To clean the tongue, use a tongue scraper to gently pull (from front to back) any bacteria or leftover food on the tongue off. Rinse between swipes. You may be surprised just how much comes off!
You can also gently brush your tongue with a toothbrush. You will instantly have fresher breath, and may even notice being able to taste food better!
Your tongue tells us a story!
Most patients do not realize that a tongue examination is a key part of every dental visit. At Spokane Dental, Dr. Smith as well as the hygienists examine the tongue (along with the rest of the oral anatomy) for any abnormalities. Your tongue health and appearance can be an indicator of overall health as well as oral.
Tongue and oral cancer can be caught with these exams, as well as bacterial or yeast overgrowth, certain diseases, or vitamin deficiencies. This is yet another reason to visit the dentist regularly.
Whether you are having tooth pain or just need a routine exam, your team at Spokane Dental can meet all of your oral needs, and we are just a call away. Contact us at (509)822-5614.