Are you wondering about your oral health? You can look at your teeth, gums, and other parts of your mouth, but you may get some real answers by examining your tongue. A healthy tongue is pink, covered with small papillae (little bumps you can see on the surface). You can tell a lot about the condition of your mouth just by sticking it out and looking in the mirror. Different symptoms signal different problems, which is why your dentist in Springfield, MO wants you to know about common warning signs that can show up on your tongue.
White Coating or White Spots
The most common cause of white spots on the tongue is oral thrush. This is a yeast infection that develops inside of the mouth. Mostly seen in infants and the elderly, these white patches are typically the consistency of cottage cheese. Oral thrush is also more likely to occur if you take antibiotics.
Another condition that can cause white spots is leukoplakia, which causes cells in the mouth to grow excessively, developing white patches on the tongue. This problem can occur when the tongue is irritated, and it’s common in those who use tobacco products. Leukoplakia can be a sign of cancer, but it’s harmless on its own.
What if Your Tongue is Red?
There are a few reasons why you may have a red tongue, including:
- Vitamin deficiency: Lack of folic acid and vitamin B-12 can cause the tongue to have a reddish appearance.
- Geographic tongue: This condition shows up as a map-like pattern of red spots, which you may have guessed based on its name.
- Scarlet fever: This is an infection that causes the tongue to turn red and bumpy. Antibiotics are usually necessary for treatment.
Black and Hairy Tongue
Just like the hair on your head, the papillae on your tongue grow as time passes. In some cases, they can become too long, which makes the tongue more susceptible to bacterial growth. This condition occurs typically in people with poor oral hygiene, and bacteria can show up in a dark or black, hair-like appearance. Fortunately, this issue isn’t serious, and it can be treated.
What if Your Tongue is Sore and Bumpy?
This can occur from:
- Trauma: Drinking/eating something extremely hot or accidentally biting your tongue can cause soreness and bumps.
- Smoking: This poor lifestyle habit irritates the tongue, causing soreness.
- Canker sores: These are mouth ulcers that develop for unknown reasons. However, stress is believed to be a factor in developing these pimple-like sores.
- Oral cancer: If you have a lump or bump on your tongue that doesn’t go away after 2 weeks, you could have oral cancer.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to call your dentist immediately to get checked out. That way, you can ensure your positive oral health and safety.
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Scott Olson believes in creating long lasting relationships with his patients, which leads to more personalized care. He wants you to be aware of common problems that can occur on your tongue because he knows that it may not get the same attention as the rest of your mouth. For any questions, he can be reached through his website or by phone at (417) 823-4900.