The tongue is one of the body’s most important parts. Thanks to it, we can speak, taste, and even learn about the health of the rest of our body. That’s right, you read that correctly, your tongue can tell you if something isn’t quite right. Below is a guide to what your tongue is trying to tell you.
Smooth and pink tongue
This is how a generally healthy tongue looks: pink and mostly smooth. The tiny bumps that typically make up the texture of your tongue are called papillae and are responsible for your sense of taste.
A tongue with this type of marking is called lingua geographica. Despite the dramatic name, it is actually a harmless pattern to have. The only complaints may be a heightened sensitivity to certain foods, types of toothpaste, or spices. This map-like tongue is passed down genetically and isn’t considered a disease by the medical field.
White lines on your tongue
The so-called “oral lichen planus” is one of the most common mouth diseases. It can cause extremely uncomfortable itching and heightened sensitivity, but can also be symptom free. It doesn’t really have a treatment, but it often goes away on its own if you avoid alcohol and tobacco.
A thick yellow layer on your tongue is usually a sign of fungal infection. These can take hold if your immune system is weak and are most common in children and teens. It is also common in people wearing braces. Make sure you go to the dentist to see what possible solutions there could be if your tongue looks like this.
Sores or blisters on your tongue
Sores can often mean that you’ve simply burned or bitten your tongue. Sometimes they are only short-lived ulcers. If they stay for more than two weeks, you should definitely have them checked, because they can be a sign of cancer.
A white coating on your tongue is often a sign of poor oral hygiene and/or too much alcohol consumption. Typically, a good brushing, a go with a tongue scraper, and lots of water will take care of this problem. I know it looks gross, but don’t worry just yet.
These ‘valleys’ often come as you age, but shouldn’t be a cause for worry. However, if your tongue simultaneously swells, you should go immediately to the doctor, because it can be a sign of the Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome.
Red and fleshy
If your tongue is looking particularly red and ‘fleshy’ you should check whether you are getting enough vitamins. According to a study at the Cleveland clinic in Ohio, USA, this type of tongue can be an indication of a lack of vitamin B12 and folic acid. Both are available in most pharmacies.
Even though this looks deadly, this black coating has a good explanation. It is often the result of certain bacteria being triggered by poor oral hygiene. It can also appear in people with diabetes or after taking certain antibiotics. If you brush your teeth well and pay attention to maintaining a clean mouth, the symptoms should pass.
Amazing that so many things can happen to your tongue. But it is good to know that the majority of these are harmless and treatable with a good once over with the toothbrush. I’m happy I know what these signs mean.