What does your tongue say about your oral health?

Our tongues play a key role in not only allowing us to taste and swallow food, but it can also be an indicator of certain health problems. The tongue offers clues to patients and their dentist about overall health and wellness, and may help pinpoint common conditions. Many patients are unaware of how much their tongue can tell them about their overall health and wellness, as well as their oral health. Below are a few things to look for on the tongue that can indicate a condition that requires assistance by a medical or dental professional:

  • Tongue with a white coating – while the tongue is often pink, there are times when it may appear as though it is coated with a substance that is white. In many cases, this is an indication of oral thrush, which is essentially a yeast infection that can occur in the mouth and may require antibiotics to address.
  • Tongue with white patches – if white patches appear on the tongue and cannot be brushed away, it might require further evaluations. In some cases, this is often a result of a condition called leukoplakia which can be addressed by quitting smoking and chewing tobacco. Other times, it may be an indication of oral cancer, and might require the attention of our dental team to evaluate.
  • Tongue that is bright red – conditions such as Kawasaki disease may cause the tongue to appear overly red, and it is often associated with a deficiency in vitamins such as B-12 and folic acid. Vitamin supplements can help address this discoloration and restore the tongue to its natural pink appearance.
  • Tongue that is tender or sore – whether the tongue is sensitive in a single area or all over, it could be caused by a food allergy. Specific areas of the tongue that are uncomfortable may indicate a canker sore. While most of these will go away on their own, some patients pursue assistance with the dentist to get a professional opinion and find out for sure the cause of this discomfort.

Are you worried about your tongue or long overdue for a checkup at the dentist?

Call (585) 248-2383 to request an appointment with Dr. Thomas J. DeStefano to discuss your needs. The practice is conveniently located at 600 Kreag Road in Pittsford, NY and accepts new patients.

Posted in: Family Dentistry

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