Tongue sticking out from the mouth. Woman shows tongue. Open mouth with tongue.
There’s no denying that there are some real advantages to getting older such as more wisdom and self-confidence. But the catch is that those perks come with changes to every part of your body, including your mouth and even your tongue. Although you may not spend much time thinking about your tongue, you might be surprised at what it can tell you about your dental health and overall well-being. And while a dentist in Marietta evaluates your tongue at each checkup, it’s still a good idea to watch for the following 4 signs that something else is going on.
- 1. You See White Patches or a White Coating
- A white coating on your tongue or the back of your throat could be a sign of oral thrush and may be accompanied by a burning sensation or tenderness. People who wear dentures or have a weakened immune system are more susceptible to this condition. After making a diagnosis, a dentist may prescribe anti-fungal medication to treat it.
- If you see white patches on your tongue, you may have leukoplakia. This condition occurs from an overgrowth of cells, typically in response to chronic irritation from smoking or chewing tobacco. In some cases it’s a precursor to oral cancer, so it’s important to have a dentist look at it.
- 2. Your Tongue Is Dark Red In Color
- A healthy tongue is pink in color. If your tongue is dark red, it may indicate the following:
- Vitamin deficiency – You may be low in folic acid or vitamin B-12, so it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor about checking your levels of these vitamins.
- Allergies – If your tongue suddenly becomes dark red, swollen or tender, you could have an allergy to a medication, food, or oral hygiene product.
- Geographic tongue – “Geographic tongue” refers to dark red spots on the tongue that resemble a map and migrate over time. This condition is usually harmless and not cause for concern.
- 3. You See Black “Hairs” On Your Tongue
- Everyone’s tongue has small, hair-like papillae on the surface, which continue growing with age. In some cases, these papillae become quite long and begin to harbor bacteria that takes on a black color. While black hairy tongue isn’t serious, people with diabetes, poor oral hygiene, and those on chemotherapy or antibiotics are more susceptible to it. It can often be taken care of by thoroughly brushing the tongue each day.
- 4. Your Tongue Is Bumpy or Tender
- A tender or bumpy tongue could be a sign of:
- Canker sores – Canker sores have multiple causes (although stress is often involved) and appear as small, oval-shaped ulcers on the tongue.
- Oral cancer – A sore or lesion that hasn’t gone away within two weeks should be evaluated by a dentist, as it could indicate oral cancer (even if isn’t painful).
- Dry mouth – As people age, they tend to take more medications. One common side effect of many drugs is dry mouth, which can give the tongue a bumpy appearance. Dry mouth greatly increases the risk of cavities, so it’s important to talk to a dentist if you think you have it.
To age gracefully, one of the best things you can do is pay attention to what your body is telling you. With an awareness of these 4 “clues” from your tongue, you’ll be in a better position to maintain better oral and overall health.
Posted on behalf of Envision Dental