When it comes to taking care of our mouths, most of us focus on brushing our teeth. It’s important to hit each quadrant, 30 seconds each. Do the front and the back… it’s so easy to miss the back of the teeth, where plaque can build up. Once we finish, we take a look at our smile, and if satisfied, we leave the bathroom. But there’s one important part of our mouths that get overlooked – the tongue.
The tongue, which aids in everything from talking to swallowing and taste can have some conditions that indicate that not all is well with our oral health. It may wind up being harmless, or it may be a sign of a worse health situation.
If you do notice any difference with your tongue – which is usually pink in color – don’t panic. Quickly notify your dentist, and do some research while waiting. Even if what you read says that it’s nothing to worry about, still go to the dentist’s office.
My Tongue Has Some White On It
Your tongue no longer looks like its normal shade of pink. It appears that there is a covering of white on the surface. What happened is that the papillae, which are normal tiny nodules on the top of your tongue, have been affected by something. There are a variety of reasons that this could happen – most of which are easily taken care of. Sometimes, though, a dentist will have to prescribe something.
- Leukoplakia – We’re starting off with the most serious one of all. This could wind up being a precursor to oral cancer. Pay close attention to your mouth and if you see This is one that you really need to watch out for. If you spot white patches on both your mouth and tongue and they are pretty thick, then see your dentist. This could be a precursor to oral cancer.
- Oral Lichen Planus – This one manifests itself by looking like lines of white lace on your tongue. It may be odd to look at, but it’s generally thought of as being benign and nothing for one to worry about.
- Thrush – Here your mouth appears to have patches of white cottage cheese in it. That’s OK if you had some that day. Otherwise it means that you have oral thrush and people of all ages and health can get it. It’s especially prevalent though if you’re asthmatic, diabetic, have COPD, or are wearing dentures. Even some foods can contribute to it, like unsweetened yogurt. Antifungal medication can likely clear it up.
My Tongue Appears to Be Red
Your tongue may turn a shade that resembles red or even purple. Usually this goes away after a bit but you may need to do some things to nudge it in that direction.
- B Vitamin Deficiencies – Here’s where you need to examine your diet and vitamin intake. You may not be getting enough B vitamins. Just order some B-12 and folic acid and you should be well on the way to getting your tongue back to its normal pink.
- Geographic Tongue – Yes, this is a real thing. Your tongue gets white and red patches, and they can resemble countries on a map. Hence the name, Geographic Tongue. The patches can move around your mouth, but it’s considered generally harmless.
- Kawasaki Disease – Children under five tend to get this, but teens, adults, and seniors are far from being immune. See a doctor if you have a red tongue – ignoring it could lead to complications with your heart.
- Scarlet Fever – This might be accompanied with strep throat. Besides the red tongue, you may see a rash that spreads across your body. If untreated, you could have kidney problems or even lose some or all of your hearing.
My Tongue Appears to be Black
You didn’t grow hair in your mouth. The papillae on your tongue multiplied by a sizeable margin, giving it that hairy appearance. While it does lend a sort of shock value, there are a variety of good reasons for this to happen:
- You have been very spotty with your brushing and flossing
- You are taking an antibiotic and this is one of the known side effects.
- You have diabetes.
- You are undergoing chemotherapy.
Your tongue may hurt or you may feel some bumps on it. There are several possibilities for this.
- Canker Sores – These mouth ulcers usually crop up at times of stress. You can find an over-the-counter medicine for it pretty easily.
- Certain Medical Conditions – Diabetics and people with anemia can get these.
- Burning Tongue Syndrome – Postmenopausal women are the main group that get this – it feels like their tongue has been burned.
- Smoking – Tongue irritation is yet another reason why this is a horrible habit.
- Mouth Trauma – If you literally bit your tongue, then this would be a good reason why it hurts.
Ignoring these symptoms is the worst thing you can do. Things can build up and be extremely problematic. See a dentist as soon as you feel something. That way, anything like oral cancer can usually be caught early. It’s worth it for the peace of mind.
The staff at US Dental Medical have seen patients with all kinds of issues over the years. They will gladly help you get back to your peak oral health. If you live in the Columbus, Ohio area, make an appointment today! Call 614-252-3181.