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What Does Your Tongue Say About Your Oral Health?

May 8, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — Megan Shelton @ 12:17 pm
woman sticking out tongue in Carlsbad

Most people have been told to brush and floss their teeth to preserve their best smile. However, your tongue is also important for your oral health. Not only does it help you swallow and digest food, but it can be an indicator of underlying issues. For this reason, it’s best to keep it in good condition and to notify your dentist of any changes. Read on to learn how to clean your tongue and what it says about your oral health!

What Should Your Tongue Look Like?

While it can vary slightly in lighter or darker shades, a healthy tongue should generally be pink. It also has papillae or small nodules from top to bottom. Any changes to either the color or texture of your tongue may be a developing issue—especially if you feel discomfort when eating, drinking, and swallowing. Here are several tongue abnormalities and what they mean:

  • White tongue: One of the most common issues is thick, white patches or lines on the tongue. This can be due to oral thrush, which is formed by the Candida albicans fungus. It can also be caused by oral lichen planus or even leukoplakia—an overgrowth of cells in the mouth.
  • Red tongue: Your tongue may appear reddish or purple due to B vitamin deficiencies. It might also be a symptom of scarlet fever or Kawasaki disease, both of which are serious conditions that will need prompt treatment.
  • Yellow tongue: This is typically due to bacterial overgrowth as well as smoking or chewing tobacco, taking certain vitamins, psoriasis, or jaundice (which is rare).
  • Black and hairy tongue: Also caused by bacterial overgrowth, this condition can develop from poor oral hygiene, diabetes, taking antibiotics, and even chemotherapy.
  • Bumpy and sore tongue: This can result from smoking, accidental tongue biting, tongue burns from hot liquid and food, or mouth ulcers. You should notify your dentist if this condition is also accompanied by severe discomfort.

How Do You Properly Clean It?

The most effective way to clean your tongue is to use a tongue scraper. It can be plastic or metal and bent at the top to make a ‘V’ or ‘C’ shape. Simply place the scraper at the back of your tongue and drag it towards the front, removing most debris and bacteria in the process. Rinse it and then repeat the steps to clean the rest of your tongue. If you don’t have a scraper, then you can still use your toothbrush by scrubbing back and forth to eliminate most particles.

By cleaning your tongue twice daily like your teeth, you can be sure to enjoy a fresh and healthy oral condition! Speak with your dentist if you do notice any changes, and they’ll be glad to provide treatment.

About the Author

Dr. Megan Shelton is a proud affiliate of several groups such as the Academy of General Dentistry and the Seattle Study Club. She earned her dental degree from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry and has been delivering outstanding care for 15 years. She offers a variety of comprehensive treatments, including checkups/cleanings to help preserve your best oral health. If you’d like to know more about your tongue health, visit her website or call 760-434-9800.

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