The tongue is a powerful muscle. From an early age, we learn how to explore the different flavors and textures of the world with it. We learn what tastes good, what tastes bad, and how our tongue can help us chew and swallow foods. As an essential part of our oral anatomy, the tongue can also help your dentist at Dobson Ranch Dental Care identify underlying oral and overall health issues. This information can be essential for our patients as they begin to age, especially for those in their 40s to 60s. Here are several things your tongue can tell us about your health.
1. WHITE PATCHES OR COATINGS
A filmy white substance on your tongue can be a key indicator of oral thrush, caused by an overgrowth of yeast in your mouth. It can also be a sign that you’re neglecting your tongue every time you brush your teeth. Brushing your tongue should be part of your daily oral care routine. If the white film brushes away, there’s little cause for alarm. If it remains after brushing, give your dentist a call.
White patches can also form on the tongue. Known as Leukoplakia, these patches form when your tongue has become irritated from activities such as smoking or tobacco use. If you use tobacco and start to see these forming, call us and book an appointment so we can rule out major health issues like oral cancer.
2. SORES OR BUMPS
Painful bumps and sores can form in your mouth for a variety of reasons. Whether you’ve had too much wine or coffee, or get regular cold sores, these sores and bumps can have a variety of causes. In some cases, significant trauma causes a sore. You can accidentally bite your tongue in a fall or scald the surface with hot water or foods. Grinding your teeth at night can also irritate your tongue and cause sores on the sides.
Canker sores can also form on your tongue, cheeks, and gums, and are generally due to higher stress levels. They can also be signs of major health issues such as lupus, Behcet’s disease, inflammatory bowel diseases and AIDS, according to the Cleveland Clinic. If you’ve had a reoccurring sore or have several at one time, consider seeing your dentist to rule out severe health issues.
A healthy tongue should keep a light pink color and be void of any redness or swelling. If your tongue changes in color and is a shade of red, then you could be dealing with some health issues in your body. You could have a vitamin deficiency and are lacking in B-12 or folic acid. Or you might notice a map-like pattern on the surface of your tongue, which is commonly known as “geographic tongue”, and is little cause for concern.
However, if your tongue is red in color and bumpy (think about the surface of a strawberry), then you might have Scarlet fever or Kawasaki disease. If your red, bumpy tongue is accompanied by a fever, it’s essential that you see your doctor or dentist right away to rule out any other health concerns. If you are curious about what your tongue condition is saying about your health, speak to a dental expert from Dobson Ranch Dental Care. To speak to a member of our team, call us at (480) 838-8558. You can also contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.