Our tongue, it’s one of those things we all take for granted! As children we explored the world with our tongues, licking everything in sight (much to our mother’s dismay) and sticking it out at our siblings and parents just to get their reaction. As young adults we learned there was more to our tongue while exploring our first kisses and exotic foods.
But the tongue is more than just a random body part, our tongues play a key role in our ability to taste and swallow food. And believe it or not, your tongue can also provide your dentist with clues to both your oral health and your overall health. In fact, you might be surprised what your tongue can tell you about your health. Get ready to say, “Ahhhhhhh!”
What Your Tongue Can Tell You About Your Health
White Coating on Tongue
Your tongue is supposed to be a lovely shade of pink. If parts of your tongue appear to be coated with a white substance, this could be oral thrush, a yeast overgrowth that occurs inside the oral cavity. Of course, it could just be whitish from not brushing your tongue every time you brush your teeth. You do that, don’t you? If the white brushes away, you’re good to go.
White Patches on Tongue
Leukoplakia is a condition that can happen if the tongue has been irritated, such as with smoking or tobacco use. Every medical professional will advise you to quit that tobacco habit, but it’s ultimately up to you. If you see white patches, though, book a dentist appointment to be on the safe side and to rule out oral cancer.
Overly Red Tongue
While an overly red tongue can be a symptom of a Kawasaki disease, it’s much more commonly associated with a vitamin deficiency, such as folic acid or B-12. The solution could be simply adding a vitamin supplement to your morning smoothie. That’s not so bad, right?
Irregular Red Bumpy Patches
If your tongue looks like a roughly drawn map of irregular red and bumpy patches, this isn’t a fortune-teller sign that you’ll be going on a trip soon. You might be suffering from a high fever, in which case, taking a long journey overseas is the last thing you should be doing!
Tender, Sore Tongue
If your tongue is overly sensitive in one spot or all over, you could have a food allergy or a developing canker sore. Don’t worry about it, unless it doesn’t go away for a time. After that, time to call in the dentist for a professional opinion!
Yep, sounds strange, but sometimes a protein build-up can cause small bumps to become elongated trapping food resulting in what looks like strands of hair on your tongue. Usually a good brushing or tongue scraping will take care of it, but if it doesn’t, a trip to the dentist is in order.
Your dentist is the first line of defense against both serious and benign health concerns. So, stick out your tongue at the dentist and be ready for a comprehensive oral checkup. You never know what your tongue might be telling you about your health!
Worried about your tongue or just need to schedule a dental check-up? Find a dentist in Arizona, Colorado or New Mexico using our interactive find a dentist feature on our website. We look forward to seeing you and seeing what that tongue of yours is telling us about your health.
Reviewed by Aurora Dentist Dr. Lei Fu, general dentist at PERFECT TEETH – Green Valley Ranch.