You know it’s rude to stick it out at strangers, but getting a closer look at your own tongue should be part of your oral health regimen. Our tongues can tell us more about our health than we may realize, and it’s important to pay attention to changes or abnormalities that may arise on our favorite flavor sensor. Read on to find out what some common tongue issues may be telling you about your overall health!
An Overly Red Tongue
While most of us would pick up a red crayon if we had to draw a tongue, we’d be alarmed to see a bright red tongue in our own mouths, and for good reason! A red tongue can be a sign of a few different issues ranging from a deficiency in vitamin B12 or folic acid to a condition aptly named Scarlet Fever. If you or your child has a tongue that looks red and bumpy, resembling a strawberry, seek immediate medical advice. This can be a sign of both Scarlet Fever and Kawasaki Disease, a serious condition usually accompanied by a fever.
Slightly discolored spots or an overall white tongue could be a sign of a few different ailments. Oral thrush is a yeast infection most typically seen in people with weakened immune systems, including children and the elderly and can be easily treated by your doctor. Leukoplakia is a condition that leads to excessive cell growth in the mouth. The condition itself is not threatening, but it can be a precursor to certain cancers and should be evaluated by a doctor.
A Sore or Bumpy Tongue
Tenderness and bumps can also be caused by a whole host of reasons. For example, sometimes we bite or burn our tongue and forget about the injury until it’s aggravated again. Unfortunately the only real treatment for minor bites and burns is time, so just avoid re-injuring the area and it should be healed up in a few days! If you develop a bump on your tongue that doesn’t go away after two weeks, schedule an appointment with your doctor. This could be a sign of oral cancer and should be looked at my a medical professional. Many oral cancers are painless at their onset, so even if the bump isn’t painful it still may be cause for concern.
Little Black or Brown Hairs on Your Tongue
Sometimes the papillae on our tongues grow longer than normal and collect bacteria. This phenomenon is rare, but can result in what appears to be black or brown hairs or fur covering the tongue. This condition is not medically serious and can usually be avoided by practicing good oral hygiene, although sometimes it can occur more easily in patients with diabetes or who are undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
Keeping an eye on your tongue for changes should be part of your overall oral hygiene regimen. It’s important to know what your tongue looks like when it’s healthy so you can notice changes that may be a sign of poor health.
Ask your dentist for more information on tongue health at your next dental appointment at Caputo Dental in Naperville! Call us to make your next appointment today!<