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What Your Tongue Can Say About Your Oral Health


Your tongue helps you eat, taste, and speak, but that’s not all it’s good for. It can also give your dentist a good indication of your oral and overall health state. 


Various conditions can affect the tongue's appearance, meaning your dentist can sometimes provide you with a diagnosis simply by taking a look at it. To help you get a better idea of what your tongue can tell you about your oral health, we’ve created this simple guide to some of the most prevalent conditions affecting how your tongue looks. 


Keep an eye out for any unusual changes in your tongue’s appearance, and if you notice any, don’t self-diagnose. Just seek professional dental services.

Sore Tongue

If your tongue is feeling sore or overly tender, and you didn’t recently bite it by accident, it may be an indication that you have a canker sore developing. If that’s the case, then you’re most likely in no danger. You’ve just got to do a baking soda or salt water rinse and let it run its course.  

 

Another reason for a sore tongue is a food allergy. You’re going to want to keep an eye on that and consult your dentist if it doesn’t pass within a few days. If it’s a recurring issue, try to take note of what you’ve been eating that may be causing the soreness so that you can eliminate it from your diet.

Red Bumpy Patches on Tongue

When your tongue has irregular patches of red bumps on it, it’s an indication that you have a high fever. Of course, you’ll likely already know you have a fever by the time you’ve noticed the appearance of your tongue, but perhaps you weren’t aware of its severity. 


If you notice those irregular red bumpy patches, you should take your temperature. If it’s at 103 degrees or higher, go to a hospital.

Solid Red Tongue

A tongue that’s so red it almost looks like a strawberry can result from a few different things. The most likely is a vitamin deficiency, typically vitamin B-12 or folic acid. Getting blood work done can help determine where you're lacking in that department to know what sort of supplements or dietary changes will help.

 

Kawasaki disease is a generally treatable illness that mostly affects young children and infants. Other symptoms include a high fever and rash. A solid red tongue may also be an indicator of Kawasaki disease.

White Coating on the Tongue

Every time you brush your teeth, you should be brushing your tongue. Many bacteria like to hang out there, which can cause all kinds of issues with your oral health, most frequently halitosis, otherwise known as bad breath. 


If you notice that your typically pink tongue has a white coating over it and you haven’t been brushing it, that’s probably the reason. However, if you do brush your tongue and you’re still noticing a white coating on it, then you most likely have oral thrush or oral candidiasis. 


Oral thrush is a yeast infection of the mouth. It can be treated relatively easily, sometimes even with home remedies. Just make sure to contact your dentist if you suspect that you may have it.

White Patches on the Tongue

If you find that your tongue has developed thick white patches on it, you most likely have a condition called leukoplakia. Leukoplakia may result from repetitive injuries or irritation to that area of your tongue, but heavy tobacco and alcohol use are more likely causes. Although it’s uncommon, this condition can indicate oral cancer, and it should be looked at by your dentist immediately.

 

Typically, your dentist will suggest that you remove the source of irritation that’s likely causing the leukoplakia, and that will clear it up. However, leukoplakia treatment is always more effective when it’s treated as early as possible, so don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment.

Hairy Tongue

No, it’s not real hair, but this condition makes it look like your tongue has hair. Hairy tongue results from dead skin cells collecting on the bumpy parts of the tongue, resulting in a fur-like appearance. The best way to treat this condition is with a good oral hygiene routine. 


That means brushing for two full minutes twice a day and flossing once a day, every day. You can also reduce your fiber intake, quit smoking, or purchase a tongue scraping device designed specifically for treating conditions like these.

Schedule an Oral Exam

Are you worried about the appearance of your tongue? Or do you think you need an oral exam to ensure your teeth are in good condition? Contact Dr. Brett Langston and the team at Dental Implant and Aesthetic Specialists of Atlanta today by giving us a call or requesting an appointment online.




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