Your teeth and gums get most of the attention when it comes to your oral health. However, there is another very critical component of your mouth that deserves your consideration – your tongue! Not only does your tongue help you speak and taste, but its appearance and condition can reveal a lot about your health.
Upon closer examination, you may find that your tongue is telling you the following:
Excess Bacteria and Bad Breath
Your tongue harbors more bacteria (millions) than any other surface in your mouth. It is covered in moist grooves and tiny bumps (papillae) that make it easy for bacteria to get trapped and grow. As bacteria breeds, it emits a foul-smelling sulfur compound, which inevitably creates stinky breath odor. Brushing your tongue (all surfaces) is the best way to prevent excess bacteria buildup.
A Dry Mouth
Chronic dry mouth is a common oral health problem that can be caused by a variety of factors including certain prescriptions, underlying medical conditions and more. Your tongue especially needs moisture to be able to comfortable speak, chew and swallow. If your tongue has a coated or crusty appearance, you should evaluate your saliva production and take steps to remedy dry mouth. We need proper amounts of saliva to neutralize acids and rinse away food debris from our teeth and gums.
There is not a part of your oral cavity that is exempt from cancer, including your tongue! In fact, the tongue is a common target for oral cancer. If you notice any changes, bumps or white or red patches that are not healing after 10-14 days, get to your dentist for an official oral cancer screening and/or biopsy.
Did you know that the appearance of your tongue reveal your nutritional health? More specifically, certain traits (like its color and texture) can indicate the body’s deficiency for specific vitamins. For example, a red, “beefy” tongue can indicate a Vitamin B-12 deficiency.
For more information about your tongue health or to schedule an appointment at Sunrise Dental & Implant Center, please give us a call.