Teeth and gums are dominant factors of your oral health, and when you think of dental hygiene, these two are probably the areas you concentrate on most. Your tongue also plays an important role in your mouth’s health and function, making it possible for you to talk, chew, and swallow properly. Your tongue can host many of the oral bacteria that congregate in your mouth, including those responsible for foul-smelling breath. Aside from housing germs, though, your tongue can provide vital insight into your physical wellbeing. Today, we examine how your tongue can tell you about your health, as well as a few signs to be wary of and what they can indicate.

Does Your Tongue Look Odd?

A healthy tongue is normally pink and covered with small white bumps called papillae. If it looks different, then it may be trying to tell you something important;

  • Pale, white tongue—A whitish coating, or white spots, on your tongue can indicate a number of different issues, such as leukoplakia, which describes a condition where oral cells have grown and multiplied excessively. Although not dangerous on its own, leukoplakia can be a precursor to cancer in some cases.
  • Red, swollen tongue—In some cases, your taste buds can become red and swollen, lending your tongue the appearance of a strawberry. Such redness may make your tongue feel sore and can indicate a number of different issues, including folic acid and vitamin B-12 deficiencies. If the redness is accompanied by a fever, however, see your physician immediately.
  • Black, hairy tongue—The small papillae that dot the surface of your tongue continue to grow throughout your life. Daily activities, such as eating and drinking, wear these small bumps down and keep them at a conservative length, but sometimes they can grow excessively long, and become more likely to harbor oral bacteria. As the germs proliferate, they can appear dark or black, and the long papillae can look hairy.

Learn More by Visiting Your Dentist

Besides your teeth and gums, your tongue plays an important role in your oral health, and can warn you of certain impending threats to your smile. To learn more, schedule a consultation by calling Silver Smiles in Silver City, NM, today at (575) 534-3699.