Your Tongue & Your Overall Health

Blonde woman sticks her tongue out while closing her eyes

Your tongue does more than just allow you to taste flavors. By looking at your tongue when you brush and floss, you can get a general idea of how healthy you are or if there are things you need to address. Here are some features to watch for and what they could mean:

Pink Tongue with Little Nodules

This is a healthy tongue. The little nodules are called “papillae”, and the tongue actually has four types: filliform, fungiform, foliate, and circumvallate. All but filliform projections contain taste buds. Instead, these give the tongue a rough texture that assists in speaking, chewsing, and cleaning the mouth.

Abnormal Colors

A bright red tongue can mean you have a vitamin deficiency, scarlet fever, strep infection, eczema, or Kawasaki disease. Tongues with a purple or blue tinge may indicate poor blood circulation or that your tissues aren’t getting enough oxygen. While digestive issues, peptic ulcers, and psoriasis can turn the tongue gray, a yellow tongue could be due to liver disease.

Bumpy & Sore

Biting or burning your tongue can make it bumpy and sore. Other reasons for bumps and pain include canker sores, irritation from smoking, and oral cancer. If a bump or abnormal patch on your tongue (even if it isn’t painful) doesn’t go away after two weeks, it could be cancerous, so get it checked out!

Coated Tongue

If your tongue looks like it’s coated in a white substance, it’s most likely because of poor oral hygiene, though coating can also occur because of mouth dryness, tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, or a fungal infection called thrush. Thrush is more likely to occur if you have diabetes, a weak immune system, false teeth, or take steroids or antibiotics. A tongue that looks black and hairy is often the result of chronically bad oral hygiene that has led to a buildup of bacteria and debris. To prevent the buildup of undesirable substances on your tongue, be sure to brush your tongue every day and visit us for routine checkups and cleanings!

Why You Should Brush Your Tongue

Lots of bacteria like to hang out on the surface of your tongue, especially if there is food debris. If you don’t clean the bacteria and debris away by brushing, your tongue will become unhealthy, and your teeth and gums will be at a higher risk for decay and disease. During routine cleanings and exams, our Pleasant Plains Dental team will evaluate the health of your whole mouth, your tongue included. Contact us to make an appointment!


Photo by Hayes Potter on Unsplash