When it comes to oral health, it is common to consider the gums and the teeth. However, we shouldn’t neglect the tongue. Your tongue helps you speak, taste, swallow and regulate your saliva. Your tongue is a muscular organ covered in moist, pink tissue. The hundreds of tiny bumps (or papillae) on its surface create a rough and grooved texture. In terms of your oral health, it is imperative that the tongue gets cleaned daily, as millions of bacteria can harbor on the tongue’s surface, causing bad breath, decay and gum disease if neglected.
What you may not know is that the appearance of your tongue can reveal certain diseases and conditions within your overall health. Therefore, it is important to take a close look at your tongue in the mirror on a regular basis. Here are some examples of what your tongue symptoms could mean:
Strawberry Red: If your tongue hue is a brighter red or pink than usual, it may be indication that you are deficient in iron or Vitamin B12.
Brown Fuzz: While shocking to discover, the tongue can produce a black or brown hairy appearance. In most cases, this is not a major cause of alarm. It can mean that the natural papillae on your tongue are overgrown and have been discolored by foods. Smokers and coffee drinkers are more subject to “black and hairy tongue.” It can also mean that you need to step up your oral hygiene routine.
Cracks and Wrinkles: Just like your face, your tongue can show your age. However, if you have cracks or fissures in your tongue, you’ll need to make sure your tongue stays extra clean, as you’ll have a better chance for bacteria and infection to harbor in those deep grooves.
Cottage Cheese: Not the actual food, but if you notice a white lumpy coating on your tongue that resembles cottage cheese, you may have an oral yeast infection or thrust. This is common if you’ve just completed a round of antibiotics or if you have an autoimmune disease. Regardless, you’ll need to consult with your doctor to remedy your cottage cheese tongue.
Painful Sores: In most cases, a sudden bump or painful sore is a sign of stress. Canker sores are common and typically go away within a week. However, if you have a red lesion that persists for longer than 2 weeks, you need to follow up with your dentist, as this could be a sign of oral cancer.
At the office of Dr. Wayne Suway, we are equipped to treat all areas of your oral health, including the prominent and important organ called your tongue. If you notice changes in the way your tongue feels or looks, please let us know sooner rather than later. We treat patients with a superior level of knowledge and care at our Marietta office.