Our tongues are really amazing muscles! How much do you really know about your tongue? Today we’re exploring 4 fun facts that you didn’t know about your tongue!
Your Tongue Print is unique
Yup, you read that right. Your tongue print is as unique as your fingerprint! Every person’s tongue forms slightly differently. The specific shape, color, and surface features vary from person to person. In fact, a trained professional can identify the gender of a person by observing their tongue! Some people are even exploring the use of tongue prints for forensic identification!
Your Tongue is Pivotal for Speech
You form and shape sounds and words in many parts of the mouth. The alveolar ridge (behind your top teeth in the front), velum (soft palette), pharynx (further back in your mouth from the soft palette), lips, nose, and tongue all play a role in producing sound. However, the tongue is the active agent in making almost all of these sounds. The placement of your tongue directs how air moves in your mouth and influences which other parts of your mouth form the sound. It is possible to make sounds without your tongue, and some incredibly inspiring people have managed their own way of speaking with no tongue as a result of birth defect, oral cancer, or accidents. However, with the way most people talk, the tongue is a pivotal part of producing the words we speak.
It Helps Digest Food
As you chew your food, your tongue helps to shape the smaller pieces of food unto a bolus or “glob.” Additionally, it mixes your saliva with the food. Saliva begins to break down the food right away. Your tongue gathers the food bits together and helps move the food ball down into your esophagus. Eating without a tongue is possible, but digestion is not as smooth.
It Shapes Your Mouth
As your mouth grows and matures in childhood, your tongue plays a vital role in expanding your palette. The constant gentle pushes of your tongue against the inside of your teeth as you chew, swallow, and talk encourages outward growth. Children whose tongues are tied too tightly often struggle with overcrowded adult teeth. Their tongues did not sufficiently expand their palette to make room for all their adult teeth.
What did you learn about your tongue? We’d love to hear what you found interesting, or other fun tongue facts you want to share!