What can your Tongue say about your Overall Body
What makes a healthy tongue?
A tongue has more functions than just giving you the ability to taste things and speak any language. If the tongue is healthy, then it should be pink in colour with small nodules covering it, called papillae. The possibility of it varying towards slightly darker or lighter shades is normal.
What makes an unhealthy tongue?
One of the first prominent symptoms of an unhealthy tongue is a notable change in colour from the normal pink shade to different textures and colours. The anomalies of the tongue cause pain while eating, drinking, and swallowing. Here is a list of anomalies in the tongue.
- Black Tongue
The presence of Bismuth in antacids causes this discoloration. A hairy tongue can also be black. However, your tongue can potentially go dark after you take an antacid with an ingredient called bismuth. It stains the tongue black on mixing with saliva. But it’s harmless and goes away once you stop taking medicine.
- Bright red Tongue
The presence of a bright-red coloured tongue could be an early sign of developing Kawasaki disease, a rare and serious illness that inflames blood vessels all over the body, generally in children. It could even be a symptom of scarlet fever. If your tongue is smooth and has a bright-red shade and pain, it indicates that your body doesn’t have enough vitamin B3.
- Smooth Tongue
Having a tongue without any small bumps/ papillae would make it appear glossy. This could happen if you don’t consume enough nutrients like iron, folic acid, etc. Celiac disease or certain medications can be a potential cause too. This is generally harmless, but it could also be linked to psoriasis.
The occurrence of Bumps under the tongue is a common spot for canker sores/mouth ulcers. They generally come and go away on their own, usually lasting for about 9-14 days. If you happen to have a lump on/under your tongue that doesn’t go away, tell your dentist about it. It could be a sign of oral cancer.
The tongue being very sensitive and a site of several nerve endings, can get hurt very easily. Mouth Ulcers, Oral Thrush, and geographic tongue can cause this soreness. At times pain in your tongue can be a sign of cancer.
- Fissured Tongue
This can also be linked to having Down syndrome, psoriasis, etc. It is harmless, but one should gently brush their tongue to clear food and bacteria.
- White patches
White spots could be a sign of oral thrush, which is a fungal infection. White patches that look lacy could be due to your immune system is attacking the tissues in your mouth. The occurrence of hard, flat, white areas that are persistent could be leukoplakia linked to cancer.
- Hair like growth on the tongue
The occurrence of a coating that looks like black, brown, or white fur might be a Hairy tongue. This hairy-looking tongue could be due to the protein that turns small bumps into longer strands, where all the food and bacteria can get caught. If you have a hairy tongue that is persistent, it might be oral hairy leukoplakia. It can also happen to people infected with viruses like HIV.
Although it sounds unimaginable, a tongue tells you a lot about your body than just serving fundamental functions. Your dentist will look at your tongue during your annual physical. It should be a practice and a force of habit to see your dentist if you notice something suspicious. The earlier that any tongue issues are diagnosed, the quicker one can receive treatment. Remember, the taste that you get eating your favorite food is all because of your tongue, do not neglect a single sign. Visit your dentist to live a stress-free life.
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