Caring for Your Tongue

Four Reasons To Watch Your Tongue

Do you have something on the tip of your tongue? How about on top? Perhaps on the side? A majority of people can go an entire day without giving their tongue a thought – we take it for granted. Your tongue, believe it or not, is a strong indication of the state of your overall health.

The tongue was a focus of ancient medicine in India and China for thousands of years as a microcosm of the entire body. We are learning now that the tongue says a great deal about a person’s health.

The color, shape, and size of your tongue may be an indication of medical conditions such as vitamin deficiencies, thrush infections, and hyperthyroidism. If your tongue is abnormal in any way, speak to your doctor right away.


The following are signs that your tongue might be signaling and what these signs mean.

Lumpy, white coating

If your tongue has a white, thick coating on it, it may be a sign that you have a thrush infection.

There ate many different kinds of organisms that live on your tongue, including yeasts and bacteria. If the balance of yeast and bacteria get disrupted by antibiotics or something else, your tongue can be taken over by yeast, which can cause oral yeast or thrush.

Yeast infections such as thrush are not immediately dangerous. However, it is important for them to be treated as quickly as possible.

If your mouth has painful white patches on it, they might be lesions that are caused by irritation from dentures braces, smoking, or your teeth. If the lesions have not disappeared within two weeks, visit your doctor.

Brown or black fuzz

Your tongue’s cells grow constantly. For some individuals, the cells grow faster than they can be shed by the tongue. As the cells continue to grow, they may resemble hairs or fuzz, and when bacteria start to grow on them, they may turn a blackish or brownish color. Hairy tongue is a condition that is not harmful. However, it can cause bad breath and be unsightly. Hairy tongue is normally more common in individuals who have poor dental hygiene, drink black tea or coffee, or who smoke. If you are suffering from a hairy tongue, speak to your dentist. They might recommend that you brush your teeth in a different way or use a tongue scraper.

The ingredient bismuth is another thing that can potentially cause a black tongue.  Many individuals take medications such as bismuth subsalicylate as either an anti-nausea or antidiarrheal medication, one of the most common side effects is their tongue might turn black after taking it. It will go away and is not harmful – especially after you brush your teeth.

tongue out

Valleys, ridges, and wrinkles

As you continue to grow older, your tongue also gets older. Your tongue might show ridges and cracks as it ages. Although it might look serious, often it is quite harmless.

Geographic tongue is a condition that a small percentage of people have. It causes whitish, raised spots on your tongue. Fortunately, a geographic tongue is completely harmless.

Some individuals might notice the side of their tongue has indents on it from their teeth. It is referred to as “scalloped tongue” and may be caused by conditions such as hyperthyroidism or stress.

Strawberry red

If your tongue is a glossy, bright red color, you might be suffering from a vitamin deficiency. Your tongue’s cells need nutrients like iron and vitamin B12 to mature. If the cells do not mature, they might die, which can cause your tongue to have a smooth appearance.

If you have a bright red tongue, consult with your doctor about whether or not you should change your diet or take supplements to consume more nutrients.

If your tongue has growths or lesions on it that are there for more than two weeks, consult with your doctor.

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