Can the Color of Your Tongue Mean Something?

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You’ve probably seen them on social media, or you might have a picture of a musician playing the guitar with his or her tongue hanging out. Pictures of this nature have become increasingly popular, and if a baby or young child is nearby, it may be almost impossible not to stick your tongue out at the young one. It could be an almost natural game that you might play, but would you know what a healthy tongue may look like?

A tongue that is healthy may be pink in color with small nodules, known as papillae, on the surface. However, some medical disorders could cause this muscle to change its color, develop patches or lesions that won’t go away or it could swell. If any of these occur, we recommend that you make an appointment to see our team as soon as possible.

If your tongue has a white coating or patches, it could be a sign that you may have one of several conditions like an oral thrush infection, leukoplakia, dehydration, fever or lichen planus. It could also mean that you breathe through your mouth frequently.

Smooth, red, and possibly swollen tongues can be caused by anemia, scarlet fever, niacin deficiency or, in young children, Kawasaki disease. Scarlet fever and Kawasaki disease both require immediate medical attention and anemia could also cause a pale tongue.

A yellow tongue could be the prelude to a black tongue and, in most cases, it may be harmless. It might simply mean that there is a collection of dead skin cells that is caught in the papillae. If the tongue becomes black, it might be caused by medical preparations containing bismuth.

If the discoloration isn’t due to a medical reason, we recommend that you gently brush your tongue twice a day when you brush your teeth. You can get a toothbrush that has a tongue scraper built-in, or you could buy a separate tongue scraper if you wish. These have become increasingly popular as research shows the benefits of cleaning the tongue for a healthier smile. When you’ve finished brushing, you can stick your tongue out at yourself in the mirror if you’d like to perform a quick check to reassure yourself.

If you would like to know more about your oral health or to schedule an appointment with our team, please call us at (828) 264-5858 . We want you to enjoy your healthiest smile possible today!