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Although you’ve probably seen it every day, how often do you really think about your tongue? It’s probably something that you take for granted. It might make an appearance when you are taking fun pictures, or when you are playing with a young child. It helps you eat food by moving it around your mouth, but unless it’s bitten, this part of your body is likely more of an afterthought in your mind. So today, we would like to share a few interesting facts about your tongue that you have probably never heard of before, and what your healthy tongue should look like!

What makes up a healthy tongue?

  • There may be 2,000-4,000 taste buds on your tongue. Each of them has sensory cells that could need replacing each week.
  • The individual taste buds are made up of about 50-150 receptor cells that can help you taste the sweet, sour, bitter, savory and salty flavors.
  • Before your tongue’s receptors can recognize any of those taste types, saliva may need to moisten the food.
  • It is strong and has eight muscles, four of them allowing it to change shape and the other four allowing it to change position. They can work together to move your tongue in different directions to help you to speak.
  • Did you know that almost half of us have bad breath at some point? One of the main causes could be from bacteria that can collect on this muscle.
  • If you brush it when you brush your teeth, you can have a healthier and cleaner mouth.
  • Every tongue is different. Your tongue has a print that is as unique to you as your fingerprint.

What your tongue says about your health

The good news is, to check on the health of your tongue all you need to do is look in the mirror and stick out your tongue. If it is pink and covered in small nodules, your tongue is likely in good oral health. But if you have any of the following, you may need to be checked out by our dentist.

White spots on your tongue

This can indicate thrush, which is an oral yeast infection that often crops up after you take antibiotics. But it is also a sign or leukoplakia, which is a precursor to cancer, though it often shows up in people who frequently use tobacco.

A red tongue 

This could indicate a vitamin B-12 deficiency which is vital for brain health, so this can invite neurological problems, including dementia. It also crops up if you have scarlet fever, and makes your tongue look like a strawberry. This typically requires antibiotics to treat.

A sore or bumpy tongue

If you injured your tongue by accidentally biting it or scalding when eating or drinking something hot, it likely just needs to heal. You might have a sore tongue if you smoke regularly. If the bump or sore is a canker sore or mouth ulcer, it just needs time to heal. But if you have a persistent lump or sore that isn’t healing, you might have oral cancer.

We hope these tongue facts help you better appreciate your all the parts that make up your oral health. If you would like to learn more about your tongue in Aiken, South Carolina, you are welcome to call Shirer Family Dentistry at 803-648-6400 to schedule a consultation. Drs. Michael and Susannah Shirer want to help you learn more about your oral health and how it impacts your healthy smile!