The look and feel of your tongue can sometimes indicate symptoms of other health conditions, such as diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, and even scarlet fever. Our tongues play a crucial role in our ability to taste and swallow food. Additionally, your tongue can provide your dentist with clues to both your oral health and your overall health.
A healthy tongue should be light pink with some white on the surface. Read on to learn what your tongue can tell you about your health, and which appearances should warrant a call to your dentist or physician.
A White Coating Is Covering Your Tongue
Your tongue should be a natural shade of pink. If parts of your tongue appear to be coated in a white substance, this can be an indication of oral thrush. Oral thrush is the result of a yeast overgrowth inside the oral cavity. A simple way to determine if you are suffering from oral thrush is to incorporate brushing your tongue every time you brush your teeth. If the white brushes away, the discoloration you’ve been experiencing could be a result of not thoroughly cleaning your tongue. If the white coating does not disappear after brushing your tongue, contact your dentist to discuss treatment options further.
White Patches on the Surface
Leukoplakia can occur if the tongue has been irritated, and is commonly seen in those who smoke or use tobacco. Quitting bad tobacco habits is the best way to eliminate white patches on the tongue from occurring. If you do not consume tobacco products and are experiencing white spots on the tongue, it is recommended to contact your dentist immediately to rule out oral cancer.
Your Tongue Is Overly Red
Experiencing an overly red tongue can be a symptom of a vitamin deficiency, including a lack of folic acid or B12. Commonly referred to as Kawasaki disease, a simple solution for an overly red tongue could be adding a vitamin supplement to your morning routine. To determine if you are suffering from a vitamin deficiency, schedule a consultation with your physician.
Irregular, Red Bumpy Patches on the Tongue
Suffering from a high fever can leave your tongue with irregular red and bumpy patches on the surface. After your fever has subsided, your tongue should return to a healthy shade of pink.
Your Tongue Appears Hairy
Suffering from a protein build-up can cause small bumps to become elongated on your tongue. These bumps begin to trap food, resulting in what appears as strands of hair on the tongue. If you notice your tongue appearing hairy, investing in a tongue brush or a tongue scraper will help to restore your tongue to a healthy state.
Your Tongue Is Sore and Tender
Your tongue can become sensitive, sore, or tender in one spot or all over for various reasons. From food allergies to developing a canker sore, a tender tongue is typically nothing to worry over. However, if your tongue has been sore and causing you discomfort for an extended period, speak with your dentist.
Your Dentist Can Help To Keep Your Tongue (and Body!) Healthy
If you have any concerns regarding a change in the appearance of your tongue, make an appointment with your physician or your dentist. Some types of groups or cracks are typical, and so is experiencing an occasional canker sore; however, anything that does not go away or causes your tongue to be tender beyond four weeks requires professional advice.
If you are concerned over the appearance of your tongue or need to schedule a routine dental check-up, contact Hinsdale Dentistry today. We look forward to seeing you and what your tongue has to say about your overall health.