You’re brushing your teeth and after rinsing out your mouth, you happen to catch a glance of your tongue. It’s definitely a different shade of color than it was recently – you have been looking regularly, right? It might hurt. Why is that? Is it dangerous? Should you panic?
The first thing you should do is make an appointment to have a dental professional look at it. But it might be good to do a bit of research. But even if the research is reassuring, do not put off the dental visit.
My Tongue Is White
First, you need to know what a tongue should look like under normal circumstances. Usually, it’s pink and there should be small nodules called papillae on both the top and the bottom. It’s when the tongue has changed color from this normal hue that you should pay attention. Like when the surface of the tongue is now covered with white.
Most of the time it is harmless. There are some that do require medical attention.
- Leukoplakia – The symptoms of this are thick white patches in both the mouth and on the tongue. It’s because there is cell overgrowth going on in your mouth and while it can be benign, it can be a precursor to cancer.
- Oral Lichen Planus -Take a look at your tongue. Are there white lines on the top of it? That’s oral lichen planus. They resemble lace. Usually it goes away on its own.
- Thrush – Does it look like there are patches of white cottage cheese on the top of your tongue or the insides of your cheeks? That’s oral thrush. Denture-wearers, diabetics, asthmatics and COPD patients who use inhalers, older adults, and infants can get it.
My Tongue Is Red (or Strawberry-Colored)
Sometimes your tongue will look red or purple. Like when your tongue turns white, it’s usually harmless, but here’s what you need to look out for:
- B Vitamin Deficiencies – Have you been making sure to take your vitamins? Especially B vitamins? Your red tongue may be an indicator that you have not. Get supplements that include folic acid and B-12 and you should be just fine again.
- Geographic Tongue – Do you see red patches with white borders that look like countries on a map? That’s geographic tongue. You don’t have to worry about it, though the patches may move around your mouth over the course of time.
- Kawasaki Disease – Although this is something that is more prevalent in children under five, people of any age can get it. Red tongue is one of the symptoms and it can lead to heart complications if not treated.
- Scarlet Fever – This is something that people with strep throat can get since it’s caused by the same bacteria. It can cause anything from hearing loss to kidney problems if not treated. A red tongue is one of the symptoms, along with a rash on the body.
My Tongue Is Black
Although it’s disconcerting to open your mouth and see your tongue looking black and hairy. It’s not really hair – the papillae in your mouth have multiplied, giving it the hairy appearance. There may be several reasons for this:
- You are not brushing and flossing properly/enough.
- There are certain antibiotics that can cause this.
- You may be diabetic.
- If you are undergoing chemotherapy, this may be a side effect.
Sometimes your tongue may be sore or there may be bumps on it. There are quite a few reasons for this. They include:
- Canker Sores – These are ulcers of the mouth and while their exact cause is unknown, people usually get them during times when they are really stressed.
- Certain Medical Conditions – If you have things like anemia or diabetes, it can affect the tongue.
- Burning Tongue Syndrome – If you are a postmenopausal woman, you might have to be on the lookout for this. Your tongue may feel like it has been burned.
- Smoking – Doing this a lot can wind up irritating your tongue.
- Mouth Trauma – If you wind up biting your tongue or scalding it with hot food. If you grind your teeth, you can also affect the edges of your tongue.
Dr. Shaista Najmi and the staff at Ivory Dental Jacksonville have helped patients with all kinds of tongue conditions. They will be glad to show you the proper brushing technique and how to brush your tongue to keep it healthy. Give them a call today to make an appointment – 904-998-1555.