What Your Tongue Says About Your Oral Health

Oral health in West Orange, NJYou probably make it a habit to inspect your teeth and gums for irregularities when you brush and floss. But how often do you look at your tongue? According to the team at Northfield Dental Group, the color and texture of your tongue can offer clues into your oral and general health. If you notice any of the following symptoms, it is best to promptly consult with our dentists to learn more about what it may mean.

White Patches, Spots or a White Coating

Thickened white patches that appear on the tongue, the insides of the cheeks or the bottom of the mouth are called leukoplakia. Most of these lesions are benign, but some can suggest the potential for cancer and should be checked out by a dentist.

White spots or a white coating over the tongue may suggest oral thrush, a yeast infection that develops inside the mouth. You could be at risk of thrush if you have diabetes, use inhaled steroids or take antibiotics.

Red Spots or Patches

A tongue that looks very red can suggest a vitamin deficiency or an underlying medical condition like a fever or strep throat. You may need to get more nutrients like iron, folic acid or B vitamins in your diet.

Enlarged Taste Buds

Taste buds that swell up or become irritated or painful could be due to a number of factors, including stress, allergies or sensitivities to certain foods, acid reflux or vitamin deficiencies.

Webbing or Stripes

Striping or webbing on the tongue, especially if accompanied by open sores, burning sensation or pain, suggests an inflammatory condition called oral lichen planus. Your case could resolve on its own, but it is best to have a dentist evaluate your mouth because of a potential increase in the risk of mouth cancer.

Ridges or Indentation

Scalloped edges along the tongue may be due to the way the teeth press into the tongue during sleep. Other ridges and indentations, including a long crack down the middle of the tongue, are completely normal. But be sure to brush your tongue daily to dislodge any food particles that can get stuck in the cracks or ridges.

Black or “Hairy” Appearance

The tiny fleshy bumps on the tongue, called papillae, can grow and harbor bacteria, making the tongue appear black or hair-like. A tongue that appears black and hairy can suggest diabetes, a yeast infection or poor oral hygiene. A black, hairy tongue can also develop in response to certain cancer therapies. We recommend you see us to determine the cause of the problem.

Contact Northfield Dental Group

If you notice anything on your tongue or other areas of your mouth that looks or feels abnormal, it is best to undergo a complete evaluation with a dentist. To request an appointment at our practice, please call or email us today.