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Person sticking their tongue out

The Tongue: Your Body’s Roadmap to Health

It may often be overlooked, but your tongue can actually clue in your dentist to potentially serious health risks down the line. In addition to being one of the strongest muscles in the body, your tongue can also indicate signs of oral cancer and even AIDS. It is majorly important to see your friendly Valencia dentist at the first signs of tongue oddities. Some things to look out for:

A black, “hairy” tongue.

Though very shocking and typically unsightly, a black and “hairy” tongue is not something to be concerned about. It is likely a sign of poor dental health, or maybe a side effect of some antibiotics and chemotherapy.

This is caused when the papillae (the small bumps on the surface of your tongue) that grow on your tongue are not worn down and are allowed to grow without limits. The extra surface space is the perfect breeding ground for numerous bacteria, which can often take on a dark or black coloring.

Once the bacteria grows on the long papillae, it can take on a hair-like appearance.

A red, “strawberry” tongue.

A healthy tongue is typically pink, but there are a few possible causes for your tongue to turn red.

What is Geographic Tongue?

Benign migratory glossitis, or a “geographic tongue”, is the term for red patches that appear on your tongue. They are typically accompanied by a white border around them. This is the result of loss of hair-like papillae on the surface of the tongue. While typically harmless, if they cause discomfort or last for over two weeks, it may be best to consult your friendly Valencia dentist.

A high fever paired with a red tongue is a warning sign for Scarlet fever. If you suspect this may be the case, contact a doctor immediately.

A lack of vitamin B-12 and folic acid can cause your tongue to turn a reddish hue.

A sore, bumpy tongue.

Smoking can cause tongue irritation.

When a taste bud becomes irritated or inflamed, it can cause a large, painful bump on your tongue. However, it’s nothing to be worried about, as it will typically resolve itself with time, however uncomfortable it may be.

Diabetes sufferers will often list a sore tongue as one of their symptoms.

If there is a lump or lasting sore on your tongue, it could indicate oral cancer. If something seems out of the ordinary, it is always safe to check with your Valencia dentist to rule out any other possible illnesses.

A white tongue.

Candidiasis, aka oral thrush, is a yeast infection that often has a white, cottage cheese-like tongue as a symptom. It typically grows in infants and the elderly, and especially after taking antibiotics, which may kill the ‘good’ bacteria in the mouth, leaving behind the oral thrush bacterium. Luckily, some plain yogurt can help restore some of the good bacteria.

Leukoplakia is a condition in which cells in the oral cavity grow unchecked. It is typically harmless, but is often a precursor to oral cancer. If you have white patches on your tongue and in your mouth, check with your friendly Valencia dentist to get the cause determined.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your oral health or about your tongue, never hesitate to schedule an appointment with your Valencia dentist today.