Our tongue helps us with eating, talking, tasting, and swallowing. Despite daily use, many people don’t know much about their tongue. Below are ten fun facts about the tongue,

Your tongue contains the most flexible muscles

Although it is often thought that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body, this is not true; it is the jaw muscle.

tongue muscles
The tongue is one of the most sensitive and flexible muscles we have. The tongue can move up, down, backward, and forward and even dislodge small pieces of food between teeth. About 80% of people can roll their tongue, but even if you can’t, your tongue remains the most flexible muscle in your body.

How does tasting with the tongue work?


Your tongue can contain between 2,000 and more than 10,000 taste buds, with each housing about 50-150 receptor cells. These cells are excellent at regenerating themselves – the cells renew every 1 to 2 weeks. Digestive enzymes dissolve food in saliva, so it can be detected and perceived by your taste buds as five possible tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, or umami (savory). You also have taste receptors in your cheeks, palate, lips, and at the back of your mouth.

Your tongue can’t taste without saliva

Without saliva, your tongue could taste almost nothing. Saliva activates the taste buds on your tongue. You can test this yourself by drying your tongue and then eating something dry; you will notice that you taste almost nothing. When your mouth becomes moist again, the taste returns.

Those white dots are not your taste buds

The small pink and white bumps on someone’s tongue are not the taste buds, as many people seem to think. These are called papillae and they harbor the taste buds, which cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Every tongue is unique

Just like fingerprints, no two tongues are the same. Tongues are unique because of the unique alignment and number of papillae and taste buds, as well as differences in size, shape, and flexibility. Scientists are developing ways to use tongue prints for biometric identity verification, which could become a new way of personal identification in the future.

About 25% of the world’s population are “supertasters”

A “supertaster” is someone with a more developed sense of taste, often recognizable when eating particularly bitter foods. About a quarter of people belong to this category, while a similar percentage is less sensitive to certain tastes.

How a tongue helps in talking

An excellent way to understand how your tongue helps you speak is by saying something out loud while paying attention to what happens in your mouth. When you talk, you push air from your lungs, through your throat, and then out of your mouth. Your vocal cords vibrate to create sound, and the movement of your tongue and lips changes the airflow, forming the words you (hopefully) want to communicate. Even minimal changes in the placement of the tongue can alter the sound you produce.

The average tongue is about 8 centimeters long

The length of the tongue can vary, with men typically having longer tongues than women.

The world record for the longest tongue belongs to an American, Nick Stoeberl, whose tongue is nearly 10 centimeters long.

Your tongue can become thick

Just like other parts of the body, the tongue can store fat, making it thicker. There has even been a correlation found between obesity and sleep apnea, where the size and weight of the tongue during sleep can obstruct breathing.

Your tongue can indicate health problems

Doctors can learn a lot about your health by examining your tongue. Various conditions, such as nutritional deficiencies, bacterial growth, or even oral cancer, can manifest through symptoms on the tongue.

Children experience tastes more intensely than adults


Children have about as many taste buds as adults, but because their tongues are much smaller, the taste receptor cells are more densely packed. This is one of the reasons why children are often seen as picky eaters.

Harper is a history enthusiast with a penchant for the peculiar. Raised in a small American town, she brings a unique blend of insightful research and playful storytelling to Top10HQ. Harper specializes in uncovering the lesser-known, often bizarre tales of the past, making history accessible and engaging for all. J

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