Crazy Facts About Your Mouth That You Won’t Believe!
Our mouths can be a pretty crazy place. We use it every day to help us eat, drink and be merry but few of us realize how incredibly complex it can be. This infographic helps illustrate that in two main areas: our taste buds and our saliva.
Our mouth employs a small army of taste buds to help us understand the foods that we eat. While we use this sense to enjoy the wonders of deep dish pizza and mountains of ice cream, the original purpose of taste was far different. It was a mechanism for survival. Taste allowed us to quickly identify what we were consuming beyond just seeing and smelling it.
Since those days we’ve come a long way. Studies show that our taste buds can sense five different flavors (although some research shows six) and ten different levels of intensity. That adds up to nearly 100,000 possible taste combinations. That number grows even larger when we include other senses like touch, temperature, and smell.
How does taste actually work? Each of our taste buds are made up of anywhere between 10 and 50 sensory cells. Those cells come to a conclusion on what taste they actually sense and then send the info off to the brain. The brain will then take that information along with information from other taste buds and makes a decision on what we’re actually tasting.
All of this happens pretty darned fast. Taste buds can send information to the brain up to 20 times per second, meaning that as a whole our mouths can be sending up to 100,000 bits of information to our brain per second.
As helpful and powerful as our taste buds are, none of it would be possible without saliva. Many of our taste buds end up being in pretty hard-to-reach places in our mouth and tongue. Saliva is the way food particles get to them so they can do their stuff. It’s the transport network for our mouth.
Beyond transporting food particles, saliva is crucial to keeping our mouth in working order. Another major function it provides is a way to balance out the acidity in our mouth. One of the biggest reasons tooth decay happens is because higher levels of acidity wear down our enamel. Every time we eat food the bacteria in our mouth produces acid – saliva helps to neutralize that. Without that neutralization, our teeth would constantly be decaying.
Finally, possibly the most important function of saliva is its ability to protect us from foreign invaders. Our mouth is the main entry point for all sorts of nasty things like germs, bacteria, and viruses. Many of those invaders never make it any further though due to our saliva. It’s full of all sorts of disease-fighting stuff like antibacterial enzymes and compounds.
So there you have it. Hopefully you can walk away from this article with a better appreciation for how complex and powerful your mouth is. It can’t do everything on its own though, which is why having a robust and consistent oral care routine is essential. Make sure you’re brushing every day with a fluoride based toothpaste, flossing and rinsing your mouth with some mouthwash. The more you protect your mouth, the more it will protect you.