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12 Strange Facts You Didn’t Know About Your Own Mouth


Breathing, eating, kissing, cursing out idiot motorists who forget to use their turn signals: all of these essential processes would be very difficult without our mouths.

And though we use it all the time, we don’t often think about what goes into making it work. The mouth is a busy thoroughfare, where the respiratory system meets the digestive system meets the nervous system meets our need to yell profanities out the window going sixty miles an hour, and it’s a complex feat of biological engineering that we can manage them at the same time.

From hidden teeth to medieval kissing, from thin skin to assisted digestion, the mysteries of the mouth are manifold (whew! try saying that one three times fast). Here are fifteen jaw-dropping facts to start off with!

1. Read My Lips: Why are the lips a different color from the rest of the face? The skin on our lips looks clearly different from the rest of our body. That is because it is much thinner in comparison. Skin usually has three separate layers – the stratum corneum, the epidermis and the dermis. The protective stratum corneum is the outer layer that is visable, the epidermis is the layer of skin underneath it, and the dermis is the lowermost layer. The cells of the stratum corneum are  dead, and they protect the body from the harsh outer environment. The epidermis is mostly responsible for producing new cells. Melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin are also found in the epidermis. Melanin, as you might know, is the pigment that gives us our particular skin color once it is exposed to the sun.

2. H2Oh!: Water may have no taste, but we need it to be able to taste anything. Our taste buds are able to pick up chemicals like salt and sugar because they’re dissolved in our saliva. Much like kissing, if you try to go into eating with a dry mouth, you’re not going to have a lot of fun.

3. Speaking in Tongues: The French kiss got its English name at the turn of the 20th century when the comparatively-reserved English saw France as a cesspool of licentious sexual practices. But the French word for the practice changed in 2013, when The Petit Robert 2014 French dictionary added the verb “se galocher,” to kiss with tongue. Before then, it was called un baiser amoureux(“a lover’s kiss”) or un baiser avec la langue (“a kiss with tongue”).

4. Kiss of Death: If you ever find yourself at the scene of a crime, don’t lick anything. Much like fingerprints, tongue prints are unique. Better not kiss anything either; lip prints are thought to be idiosyncratic as well.

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