Your tongue plays a vital role in conversation and eating, but did you know it sends silent messages about your general health? Three different color changes offer subtle clues to overall wellness that are worth paying attention to.
The human tongue is often referred to as the most powerful muscle in the body. But your tongue is actually comprised of eight muscles working together as a multi-use tool. Washington Irving once said, "The tongue is the only instrument that gets sharper with use." Both wars and romances have begun with words rolling off the tongue, and a healthy one helps us taste food, swallow, and talk.
Changes sometimes occur on the surface of the tongue that may leave you wondering what's going on. While discomfort characterizes some tongue conditions, many changes could go unnoticed without a quick inspection. When you visit our practice for care, we monitor the surfaces of your mouth for any alterations, including on and around your tongue. We can help you determine which ones reflect concerns requiring further evaluation or monitoring.
A healthy tongue is pink and covered with papillae: small nodules with taste buds on top. The average person has about 10,000 of these projections, and they're replaced every two weeks. Many changes alter the papillae, although few are serious. Let's explore a few color shifts that you might notice on your tongue:
Remember the papillae mentioned earlier? Sometimes they overgrow and become a haven for bacteria and stain. Chemotherapy, diabetic, or antibiotic patients may also deal with black hairy tongue. While it doesn't look pleasant and can contribute to bad breath, it rarely indicates a serious problem. Usually better oral hygiene and tongue cleaning will take care of it, and our team can help you find a personalized strategy to deal with it.
Your tongue often reflects messages about your general health and deserves a regular inspection. While cancerous changes are rare, it's important that discolored or irregular areas are checked. If you notice any of these changes, be sure to schedule an exam with us. By seeing us for your regular preventive visits, we'll help monitor your teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth lining for optimal health!