Allowing individuals the extraordinary benefit to taste food, swallow, and talk, the tongue reigns as the strongest, and perhaps most used muscle in the body. For this reason, whenever something changes with the tongue, such as when hot foods or beverages burn it, it is noticeable and even frustrating. While a healthy tongue is pink in color with many tiny nodules or “dots,” there are important conditions to learn about when it comes to this all-important muscle. Read on to discover some truths about your tongue.
A White Tongue
In some instances, a person’s tongue may appear white. This whitish coating or patching can be caused by several factors. Leukoplakia is a condition characterized by excessive growth of cells, leading to white patches and spots on the tongue. Thrush, or candidiasis, also gives the tongue a white appearance. Thrush is a yeast infection in the mouth, most commonly noted in infants and the elderly, as well as anyone with a weakened immune system. Finally, Lichen Planus is a condition where a pattern of raised white lines form on the tongue, likely from irritation from tobacco products.
A Red or Strawberry Tongue
When a normally pink tongue turns dark red or resembles a strawberry with enlarged nodules, there are several possibilities, from vitamin deficiencies to blood vessel disease. To explain, individuals that lack folic acid or vitamin B-12 may notice that their tongue is red or comparable to a strawberry. Another possibility is Geographic Tongue, which manifests in a specific pattern similar to a map. Appearing as red spots with white borders, this condition often goes away naturally. As a more serious condition, Scarlet Fever is a combination of high fever with a strawberry tongue. Antibiotic therapy is needed in this case. Another serious condition, Kawasaki Syndrome, is also characterized by a high fever with strawberry tongue, although usually occurring in children 5 and under.
A Black Hairy Tongue
The tiny bumps covering the surface of the tongue are called papillae. Papillae continue to grow over the course of an individual’s life, sometimes becoming very long. When papillae are long, bacteria forms easily. As they make their home among the papillae, the bacteria may appear hair-like and black. Even so, a black hairy tongue is not common.
While many of the truths involving the tongue are not cause for immediate concern, you should never ignore problems with your tongue. With the enormous benefits that the tongue awards, it’s too risky not to consult your dentist.
At Dr. C Family Dentistry, patients receive the highest standard of care, with comfort and the convenience of same day scheduling. Our team is fully equipped to provide you with invaluable insight about your oral health, including your tongue. We welcome your call today!
Posted on behalf of Dr. C Family Dentistry