Everyone has heard the expression “tongue in cheek” used to signify that the speaker has made an ironic or joking comment. In fact, the saying originated in England in the 1800s and is referenced to Sir Walter Scott!
While the tongue can be used to imply that whatever was said should be taken with a “grain of salt” it can also be called one of the hardest working muscles in your body…
Let’s take a look inside and find out what ELSE your tongue can do!
- At birth, the tongue is the only fully developed organ, since it is vital for a baby to be able to suck!
- The tongue is the strongest muscle in your body and the ONLY one attached at only one end!
- A gentleman named Thomas Blackstone holds the record for the strongest tongue, lifting a 20 pound, 3 ounce weight hooked through his tongue!
- The longest tongue measured was 3.86 inches from back to front and the widest on record 3.1 inches at the widest point.
- Because each tongue varies with the individual, each is as unique as a fingerprint — imagine if we took tongue prints!
- There are between 9,000 and 10,000 taste buds in the average human mouth — but not all of them reside on your tongue! Approximately 10% live on your cheeks and palette, with even a few UNDER your tongue and on your lips.
- Those taste buds have an average lifespan of only 10 days
- We have four basic types of taste buds: salt and sweet live at the tip of the tongue, while sour is along the sides and bitter sits at the base. A Japanese researcher discovered a fifth type in 1908, called umami which the chemical MSG is responsible for!
- The tongue and taste buds do not work alone in determining how a food tastes — your nose is their partner, which is why foods do not taste the same if you have a cold. You can also play a trick on your tongue: put something sweet in your mouth while smelling an onion! Your saliva is also key in tasting foods — your taste buds cannot work unless the food is dissolved in your saliva or water, which is why we taste salty flavors first, since they dissolve most quickly!
- Not only do your taste buds take up real estate on your tongue…so do nearly 50% of the bacteria that live in your mouth
- This accounts for the dreaded “morning breath” since the bacteria have taken up residence — and some died overnight — on your tongue. If your partner suffers from halitosis, suggest a good tongue brushing!
- Not only will you make your partner and co-workers happier if you brush your tongue, it can also help prevent heart attacks, pneumonia, osteoporosis, premature births, diabetes and infertility in men
- Apparently, even the earliest civilizations were facinated by the human tongue, since tongue piecings date back to ancient times — and you thought you were being cool and trendy!
- In fact, as languages were developing around the world the words for Tongue and Language have remained the same in Russian, Persian, Portuguese, Spanish, Greek, Armenian, Polish, Finnish, Irish and Latin Turkic
- Over 2500 years ago in Assyria, conquered soldiers and criminals had their tongues cut out and fed to the King’s cats — giving rise to the expression “cat got your tongue!”
- While we’re on the subject of animals, the tongue of the blue whale weighs more than the average ELEPHANT at somewhere around 5,400 pounds!
- Yet the poor crocodile can’t even stick out his tongue…maybe that’s why he cries crocodile tears
- We all remember sticking our tongues out at our little brother, when we thought mom wasn’t looking. Interestingly enough, girls have more taste buds than boys — so take that! But, boys get their licks in, too — women have shorter tongues than men, with the longest female tongue measured at 2.76 inches.
- And, you used to tease your sister about not being able to roll her tongue into a “taco” but genetic mapping has proven that this is not a genetic trait and that about 85% of the population has this ability!
- Most importantly, unlike a broken heart or hurt feelings, the tongue heals the most quickly of any body part!
So, the next time you feel like giving your tongue a workout, try the world’s most difficult tongue-twister: The sixth sick sheihk’s sixth sheep’s sick! Or, better yet bring your tongue for a visit to The Smile Center to see Smiling Sammy…it’s a LOT easier!