Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Rebecca from , . Rebecca Wonders, “At what temperature does your tongue burn?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Rebecca !
Mmm…do you smell that? After a tiring game of tag, you walk in the front door to the smell of a pizza baking in the oven. Is there any better smell in the world? The rising bread…the bubbling mozzarella cheese…the spicy tomato sauce…the sizzling pepperoni…your mouth waters just thinking about taking that first bite.
The oven timer finally goes off and shortly after, there it is—your plate filled with a large slice of piping-hot pepperoni pizza. You can't wait another second. You grab the slice with both hands, raise it to your mouth, and chomp down through delicious layers of cheese, meat, sauce, and crust.
Instead of "yum," though, your first word is "ouch" as you drop the slice back onto your plate and begin searching for a cold drink. All you wanted was a big bite of pizza, but all your enthusiasm got you was a burnt tongue!
We've all burned our tongues from time to time. We eat a lot of hot food every day. Sooner or later, it's bound to happen. The tongue is a sensitive part of the body. It has to be, so we can taste all those delicious flavors. Like other types of bodily tissues, the tongue can be burnt when exposed to foods and drinks that are too hot.
Pizza is a popular food that people burn their tongues on often. Other frequent culprits include soup, tea, hot chocolate, and coffee. If you think about dropping any of these foods or drinks on your arm, you can imagine the burning sensation you'd feel on your skin. Your tongue experiences the same type of painful sensation.
The exact temperature at which you'll feel a burn on your tongue can vary from one person to the next. Different people have different pain tolerances. A warm bath can easily be over 100º F and feel heavenly. Boiling water at 212º F would cause serious burns to anyone.
Hot foods and drinks fall somewhere between those extremes. Hot beverages, such as coffee and tea, are often served at temperatures between 158º F and 185º F. Studies have shown that even a brief sip of liquids at these temperatures can scald the tongue. Whether it's a hot coffee or a hot slice of pizza, it's best to exercise some patience and wait for your foods and drinks to cool off a bit before enjoying them.
When you burn your tongue, your first instinct is likely to reach for a cool drink, and that's absolutely what you should do. Sipping ice water or sucking on an ice cube will cool and soothe your tongue, preventing further damage to your tongue.
After you've soothed your burnt tongue, you'll probably notice that you might not be able to taste things in quite the same way. This is natural, as the burn you've experienced probably damaged the top layer of taste bud cells.
If you're WONDERing whether the damage to your tongue is permanent, don't worry! Thanks to the abundant blood flow it receives, the tongue is one of the fastest healing parts of your body. In fact, the tongue heals approximately twice as fast as other parts of the body.
After burning your tongue, avoid hot foods and acidic foods that can irritate the tongue and mouth, such as citrus fruits, vinegar, and tomatoes. In just a day or two, your tongue will be feeling fine. While your tongue is healing, take some time to enjoy soothing foods, like popsicles, ice cream, and yogurt!