Your tongue can reveal a lot about the health of your mouth. For clues about your oral health issues, you should be checking your tongue.
A healthy tongue should be of a pink colour and be covered with small bumps, which are called papillae. Any abnormality from your tongues appearance, or any pain, could be a cause for concern.
So what are the common things to look out for on your tongue? If you suspect any of the conditions below, simply give your dentist a call so that they can diagnose it for you.
If your tongue is particularly white or has white spots on it, it could be a sign of the following conditions:
Oral thrush: Oral thrush is a yeast infection that develops inside the mouth. It appears as white patches that are often the consistency of cottage cheese.
Oral lichen planus: Oral lichen planus is a network of raised white lines on your tongue.
Leucoplakia: Leucoplakia a condition in which the cells in the mouth grow excessively, which leads to white patches on the tongue and inside the mouth.
If your tongue is particularly red in colour it could be a sign of:
Vitamin deficiency: Folic acid and vitamin B-12 deficiencies can cause your tongue to take on a reddish appearance.
Geographic tongue: This condition causes a pattern of reddish spots to grow on the surface of your tongue. These patches can have a white border around them, and their location on your tongue may shift over time and resembles a map, which is the reason for the name.
Scarlet fever: Scarlett fever is an infection that causes the tongue to have a strawberry-like red and bumpy appearance. If you have a high fever and a red tongue, you need to see your family doctor.
Kawasaki disease: This is another condition that can also cause the tongue to have a strawberry-like look. Kawasaki syndrome is a serious condition that demands immediate medical evaluation.
If you have painful lumps and bumps on your tongue can be due to a number of reasons.
Mouth ulcers: Many people develop mouth ulcers on the tongue at one time or another. Stress and poor diet are believed to be factors. They typically heal without treatment within a week or two.
Oral cancer: A lump or sore on your tongue that doesn’t go away within a couple of weeks could be an indication of oral cancer. Many oral cancers don’t hurt in the early stages, so a lack of pain doesn’t necessarily mean that nothing is wrong.
Smoking: Smoking can irritate your tongue, which can cause soreness.
In the same way that your hair grows, the papillae on your tongue grow throughout your lifetime. Some people’s papillae can grow excessively long, which makes them more likely to collect bacteria.
When these bacteria grow, they may look dark or black, and the overgrown papillae can appear hair-like. Luckily, this condition is very rare and is most likely to occur in people with poor dental hygiene.
You should see your dentist as soon as you suspect anything is wrong with your oral health or your tongue. It may be nothing, but it is always best to be safe rather than sorry.