What Your Tongue Can Tell You About Your Health

Did you know that the appearance of your tongue can tell you many things about your health? A healthy tongue is pink with small nodules (papillae) covering its surface. If you notice that your tongue looks different than usual, or if you experience any pain, it may be a sign that something is wrong. Watch for changes such as the following:

White Coating/White Spots

White coating or white spots on your tongue could be a sign of:

Oral Thrush: Oral thrush is a yeast infection inside the mouth that appears as white patches, often the consistency of cottage cheese. It is commonly seen in infants and the elderly, especially in people with weakened immune systems or those who wear dentures. It is more likely to occur after taking antibiotics.

Leukoplakia: Leukoplakia is a condition in which the cells in the mouth grow excessively, leading to white patches on the tongue and inside the mouth. It is not dangerous, but it can be a precursor to cancer. It is usually seen in those who use tobacco products. 

Oral Lichen Planus: Oral lichen planus is a network of raised white lines of your tongue. The cause is typically unknown, but it usually resolves itself on its own. 

Red Tongue

If you have a red tongue, it could be a sign of:

Scarlet Fever: Scarlet fever is an infection that gives the tongue a red, bumpy appearance. If you have a high fever and a red tongue, visit a doctor. Antibiotics are needed to treat Scarlet fever. 

Geographic Tongue: Geographic tongue causes reddish spots to develop in a map-like pattern. They may have a white border and the location of the spots on your tongue can change over time. It is usually a harmless condition. 

Kawasaki Disease: Kawasaki disease causes the tongue to have a strawberry-like appearance, usually seen in children under the age of 5. It is often accompanied by a high fever. Kawasaki disease is a serious condition, so seek medical attention if you begin to see symptoms. 

Vitamin Deficiency: Folic acid and vitamin B-12 deficiencies can cause the tongue to become reddish. A blood test can determine these levels.

Sore or Bumpy Tongue

If your tongue is sore or bumpy, it can be due to:

Canker Sores: Canker sores, or mouth ulcers, normally heal without treatment within one to two weeks. Although the exact cause is unknown, stress may be a contributing factor.

Oral Cancer: If you have a lump on your tongue that does not disappear within two weeks, it may be a sign of oral cancer. Even if you do not feel pain in the lump, it does not rule out oral cancer. Many oral cancers do not hurt in the beginning. 

Keep an eye on your tongue, noting any changes that may appear. If you notice any lumps, sores, discoloration, or pain that does not fade within two weeks, visit a medical professional.

Jacksonville Dental Care

At Jacksonville Dental Care, we believe that everyone deserves a bright, clean, natural-looking smile. At Jacksonville Dental Care we have helped many patients correct years of oral neglect in just one or two comfortable and stress-free dental appointments. Contact us today!