Updated 05 June 2013

Getting the tongues wagging

How much do you know about your tongue? Do you just take it for granted? What can go wrong with it?


How much do you know about your tongue? Do you just take it for granted? What can go wrong with it?

10 Tongue facts – did you know?

Bad breath to boot. Your tongue can cause bad breath, as bacteria in your mouth feeds on leftover food particles, creating smelly sulphur compounds.

Tongue-twister. Eighty-five percent of the population can twist their tongue into a tube. But more, importantly, without a tongue, speech would be physically impossible.

Hairy tongue horror. The overgrowth of tastebuds in your mouth can cause a condition called hairy tongue. This could be caused by antibiotic treatment and salivary gland problems.

Hook them in. A chameleon’s tongue is twice the length of its body; an elephant can weigh less than the tongue of the blue whale and a giraffe can clean its ears with its 40cm-long tongue.

Where there’s smoke. Tongue cancer is between 6 and 27 times more likely in smokers than in non-smokers.

Bright and breezy. Cleaning your teeth and tongue properly can reduce bad breath by 85 percent.

Tongue kisses. Everyone’s tongue prints are different – like fingerprints.

Muscle in. The tongue is the strongest muscle in the body. It is also one of the most frequently used.

Stick it out. Both humans and gorillas stick out their tongues as a sign of aggression or aversion.

A question of taste. The tongue has approximately 10 000 tastebuds. Bitter tastes are tasted by the tastebuds at the back of the tongue.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated June 2010)

(Picture: teen sticking out tongue from Shutterstock)


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