Learn What Your Tongue Is Telling You About Your Body

Take a look at what a healthy tongue looks like to see if yours measures up.
Pink and smooth

If your tongue is pink, free of spots and grime, and full of papillae (taste buds), you’re good to go. Your tongue should be a little bumpy. If it’s too smooth, you may have a vitamin deficiency.

Red and beefy

A bright red tongue could be a sign of vitamin deficiencies. A lack of vitamin B-12 or folic acid may make your tongue appear red, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Scalloped edge

If your tongue appears swollen with scallops (little waves) around the edges, this could be a sign of a thyroid disorder. Other symptoms to watch out for include frequent bruising, tiredness, hair loss and low blood pressure. So make sure you are getting plenty of fluids throughout the day, according to the NIH.
Cracked or fissured

A cracked tongue could be a sign of an autoimmune disorder, but more than likely it’s benign. Fissures usually appear when you are younger and can get bigger (like wrinkles) as you age.
Brown or black coating

If your tongue is black or brown this is a sign of poor dental hygiene. This condition may also appear in patients with diabetes or people taking antibiotics. Some chemotherapy patients also develop a black tongue. Brush and floss regularly to prevent bacteria growth.
White coating

If your tongue has a white coating, you may want to call your doctor. Oral thrush (a yeast infection in your mouth) presents itself with a white coating. This condition occurs more often in infants and individuals with weakened immune systems. If you smoke, a white tongue could be a symptom of leukoplakia, a precursor to cancer.


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