What your tongue tells about your health

Our tongue can be the barometer of our oral and overall health. Did you know this? Don’t be surprised but this is true. Your tongue can give you clues about how are you faring vis a vis your health. Let us explore this subject today in this blog.

If you have never paid attention to your tongue till now, you can start today itself. Do you observe bumps, patches and spots on your tongue? Well most of these are normal and harmless. A healthy tongue is typically pinkish in color. The shades of pink can vary from dark to light shades. The tongue has small nodules called the papillae. The papillae contain the taste buds. If your tongue is not pink or shades thereof and there is a significant color difference it can mean you have an unhealthy tongue.

  • White spots on the tongue – If you observe white spots on the tongue or if the color of the tongue appears white then it is possible that you have what is called the oral thrush. Oral thrush is a yeast infection that develops in people with weak immune systems or people suffering from diabetes or those people who are on steroids. However they can also occur in a person who has just undergone a course of antibiotics. The fungus Candida ablicans is the cause behind it. The white spots can appear on the tongue as well as the insides of the cheeks. They are cottage cheese like in texture and are generally seen in infants and older people who use dentures. 
  • Leukoplakia is a medical condition in which also one sees white patches or lesions on tongue and the insides of the mouth. This is different from the oral thrush. This is a precursor to oral cancer but in many cases it can be benign also. A dentist is a right person to go to if you see white spots or patches on your tongue. Only they can differentiate and identify if what you have is an oral thrush or Leukoplakia. It is mostly seen in people who smoke or consume tobacco. It happens when the tongue is irritated and the cells on the tongue grow excessively.
  • Lichen Planus are raised lace like white lines on the tongue. This generally resolves on its own. Sometimes not brushing our tongue could make it appear white so do not panic on seeing a white tongue. In most cases an antifungal mouthwash or a pill will do the trick. But do visit a dentist for further examination as they are trained to understand the causes and cures of these conditions.
  • Black hairy tongue may look scary but is generally harmless. It is caused by the overgrowth of bacteria and the color of the tongue can vary from dark yellow, brown to black. This is generally due to poor oral hygiene but also observed in people with diabetes or those undergoing chemotherapy.
  • If your tongue appears red in color with red patches and white borders which look like a map you may be suffering from what is known as a geographic tongue. This is harmless and occurs due to folic acid and Vitamin B deficiency. If however the tongue looks like strawberry this may indicate serious conditions like Kawasaki disease (affects children up to 5 years of age) and scarlet fever.
  • Yellow tongue is generally observed in people who smoke, consume tobacco or are suffering from psoriasis or jaundice. It is harmless bacterial overgrowth.
  • If you observe bumps on your tongue these may be cankers sores or cold sores. They are due to stress and an upset stomach and can go away with home remedies like salt water gargling, chewing mint, eating less greasy or spicy food and eating soft and cold food like yoghurt. If however they do not resolve even after these treatments at home it is advisable to go and consult a doctor.
  • If your tongue feels like its burning and tastes bitter you may the burning mouth syndrome. It can mean there is something wrong with the nerves in the tongue. There are some other health problems like acid reflux, diabetes etc which may cause it.
  • Deep grooves on the tongue also called fissured tongue can be as a result of aging or down’s syndrome or Sjogren’s syndrome. In such conditions it’s important to brush your tongue gently and make sure you consult a doctor immediately.

While most of the above conditions barring a few are harmless make sure you pay attention to your tongue. Sores that don’t heal for days together or if you have pain in the tongue or you are facing difficulty in chewing or swallowing the food do not delay taking an appointment with a doctor preferably a dentist. These may be symptoms of oral cancer. 

In summary we can conclude that it is important to keep observing any change in the appearance and color of our tongue. You should check your tongue daily after brushing your teeth as a matter of routine. Your health is in your hands. Use a tongue scraper made of either plastic or metal to clean your teeth. You can scrape your tongue once or twice a day as is suitable for you. If you do not want to use a tongue scraper you can always brush your tongue too as often as you brush your teeth. Mouthwashes also help. Cleaning the tongue reduces the bacteria and also reduces plaque. So no matter how you decide to clean your tongue make it a part of oral hygiene routine right away.

You can always call Ensure Dental Care (the family dentist near you) on 682-213-4114 for more information or to schedule an appointment. Ensure Dental Care is the one of the best Saginaw Dental Clinic in Saginaw Texas. We are near Fort Worth. We accept all major insurance providers.

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