Exploring Oral Health Symptoms, Issues and Solutions

5 Things Your Tongue is Trying to Tell You

Dental appointments are a chance for your dentist to check the health of your teeth and gums, but did you know that they also check your tongue? The way your tongue looks can provide a lot of information about your health, so it's worth sneaking a peek at it in the mirror after you brush your teeth. Here are several things you might find out.

1. A Soft Pink Tongue is Healthy

If your tongue is pink and soft, then congratulations — you have a healthy tongue. Help it to stay that way by using your toothbrush to gently brush your tongue.

2. A White-Coated Tongue Can Indicate Fungal Infection

There are two types of white coating that can develop on a tongue. The first is basic dental plaque, which also forms on teeth. You can easily brush plaque away using your toothbrush and very gentle pressure. The second kind of white coating resists being scrubbed away. This persistent white coating can be a sign of a fungal infection sometimes called thrush. You need to get anti-fungal medication from your doctor or dentist to treat thrush.

3. A Red Tongue Can Be a Sign of Deficiency

If your tongue is bright red, then you might want to reevaluate your diet. A bright red tongue is a characteristic symptom of a vitamin B12 or folate deficiency. Vitamin B12 is found in animal products as well as in fortified foods such as breakfast cereals and plant milk. Meanwhile, folate is found in whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. You can also take vitamin supplements to treat a deficiency of either of these essential nutrients. Ask your doctor for a blood test if you suspect that a vitamin deficiency might be causing your tongue to look a little strange.

4. White Patches Can Be Early Cancers

You should never ignore white patches on your tongue. Sometimes, they are simply irritated areas that have arisen from the tongue scraping against the teeth. However, they can also be the earliest stage of oral cancer. Both white patches and oral cancer are more common in people who use tobacco. Dentists are trained to spot the signs of oral cancer, so be sure to attend checkups regularly to get your tongue checked out.

5. Sensitivity Could Be an Allergy

If your tongue hurts after you eat certain foods, then it is possible that you are having a mild allergic reaction. Other causes of tongue pain include the tongue scraping against the teeth. If this happens regularly, bring it up with your dentist who may be able to offer a solution.