When people do their oral care routine each day, they tend to be mostly focused on ensuring that they take care of their teeth. They get each tooth, hopefully remembering to brush the back of the tooth and not just the front. The back area is a prime space for plaque and tartar to build up. It’s not that hard – brush 30 seconds in each quadrant of the mouth. Once finished, they rinse off the brush, take a look at their gleaming teeth and leave.
That’s all they should do, right? Wrong – they need to floss to get pieces of food particles out. Brushing one’s teeth can’t get everything. Do that once a day… and that’s enough, right? Again, incorrect. There’s one other thing in their mouth that they should be checking daily – their tongue. It’s a big part of chewing, swallowing, and talking and any deviation from its normal pink color should be swiftly addressed, since it could indicate a possibly serious health condition.
The first order of business should be to go see a dentist. No matter if research says it’s likely harmless, the dentist should be the final judge of that.
There Is White Stuff on My Tongue
Your normally-pink tongue looks like it snowed. This has nothing to do with the season or the temperature outside though, and there’s no shoveling to get rid of it. You have tiny nodules on your tongue called papillae, and something is affecting the, hence the white color. Most of the time, it’s fairly simple to take care of, though you might also need a dentist’s prescription for stronger medication.
Here are some reasons for the white coating:
- Leukoplakia – It’s best to get the most serious one out of the way. This white stuff could be a sign of something that can lead to oral cancer. See a dentist immediately to have him or her rule it out, since waiting can allow the cancer to set in and become more aggressive. The most telltale sign is that the white is seen in thick patches and are also on the sides of your mouth along with your tongue.
- Oral Lichen Planus – You look at your mouth and it looks like an interior decorator laid out lines of lace on your tongue. While it may look very unusual, your dentist will likely tell you that it’s nothing dangerous and nothing to worry about.
- Thrush – Did you eat cottage cheese that day and have bits stuck in your mouth and tongue? OK, just brush it off. But if you didn’t and you see something that resembles it on your tongue, then you have oral thrush. It’s not limited to any particular age bracket – people of all ages can get it. There are some that may be predisposed, like diabetics or asthmatics. Those who have COPD or are denture-wearers. Even some medications can cause this as a side effect. Usually antifungal medication can take care of it.
My Tongue Looks Like A Strawberry
There are conditions that can make your tongue turn very red or even a shade of purple. It’s usually short-lived, but there are things you can do to help prevent it.
- B Vitamin Deficiencies – What kind of vitamins are you taking? What food do you eat? Do you make sure that you get B vitamins? A lack of them can cause this to happen to your tongue. It’s an easy fix – just buy B-12 and folic acid and your tongue should be back to normal soon.
- Geographic Tongue – No, this is not a way to secretly cheat on a geography test. Your tongue winds up getting patches on it that are red and white and resemble continents. While the patches move around, it’s generally harmless.
- Kawasaki Disease – Children under five tend to be the ones who get this the most, but teens, adults, and seniors need to be aware. If not treated quickly, you could have heart issues.
- Scarlet Fever – You may see this in conjunction with strep throat. Other symptoms include a body-wide rash. It is important to seek medical help, since you could have kidney problems or hearing loss.
My Tongue Is Black?!
No, you didn’t sprout hair in your mouth. Your tongue’s papillae multiplied by a LOT and that is what makes it look like you need a comb for your tongue. It’s fairly harmless, though it can be shocking to see. There are several reasons why it happens:
- You have been very spotty with your brushing and flossing
- You are taking an antibiotic and this is one of the known side effects.
- You have diabetes.
- You are undergoing chemotherapy.
There Are OTHER Things That Can Happen to My Tongue
Yes, there are more things to look out for. You may feel pain on your tongue or even some bumps. There are several possibilities for this.
- Canker Sores – You feel these mouth ulcers most often when you are stressed. There are plenty of over-the-counter medicines for this.
- Certain Medical Conditions – Diabetics and people with anemia can have things appear on their tongue.
- Burning Tongue Syndrome – Does it feel like your tongue is on fire or has been burned? This usually happens to postmenopausal women.
- Smoking – This is a horrible habit for many reasons. Tongue irritation is yet another one.
- Mouth Trauma – If you literally bit your tongue, then this would be a good reason why it hurts.
Don’t ignore these symptoms since they can rapidly build up and get worse in a very short amount of time. It’s better to be cautious and have it turn out to be nothing rather than the opposite. Even if one time it’s fine it doesn’t mean that it will always be that way. Being vigilant can lead to peace of mind.
You’re in luck if you live in the Clearwater, Florida area. The Dental Emergency Room is open 24/7 and skilled dentists can diagnose you quickly. They also do general dental work, so you can find one to see twice a year for check-ups. Give them a call today: 727-449-2424.