Do I really need to pay attention to my tongue?

Your tongue can tell a lot about your oral health. Your dentist will take a good look at it during your twice yearly dental exam. But you should also be looking at it regularly to help determine if you’re suffering from one of the many conditions your tongue can reveal.

The condition of your tongue (whether it is wrinkled or has numerous crevices); it’s color; if it has a white coating; or sores (that come and go or others that are persistent) … should draw your attention. Some conditions are perfectly harmless, but identifying certain symptoms quickly could save your life. Any suspicious sore or lesion could be the onset of oral cancer … get it checked right away.

The color of your tongue may indicate a vitamin deficiency; a burning sensation may point to a hormonal imbalance. These conditions are common and usually easily treated.

If your tongue appears black or hairy, this could be the result of poor dental hygiene; coffee or tea that is clinging to the hairy surface of the tongue; or tobacco use. Patients usually have a buildup of bacteria on their tongue; bad breath often accompanies this condition.

If the tongue appears to have a white coating, the patient may be suffering from a yeast infection often associated with taking antibiotics. A common name given to this condition is thrush.

If the patient looks at their tongue and it appears the surface is uneven, this is usually nothing to be concerned about. However, if it is uneven due to sores, there may be cause for concern.

A lesion that does not go away in a week or two should be looked at … some lesions are very painful while others are not painful at all. Any lesion that is persistent should be investigated … your dentist may recommend a biopsy just to be on the safe side.

Canker sores can be very uncomfortable; some are attributed to stress while certain foods may be the culprit for others . They can vary in size, and usually must just run their course. There are some topical products that will bring some relief, but if canker sores are chronic consult with your dentist to try to determine the cause.

Brush your tongue daily when you brush your teeth. A couple of quick swipes is all you need.

Do you need to schedule a cleaning? Call our office at Tate Family Dentistry today!


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