Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published on 7/19/2019 and has been updated on 9/30/2021
I bet you didn’t realize that your tongue was an indicator of your personal health. It’s true! Our tongues’ colors, textures, and shapes can tell us important information about our bodies. They might even warn us about an underlying issue we aren’t aware of. All we have to do is pay attention and listen. Keep reading below to find out what your tongue may be saying about your health.
Let’s First Talk About What A Healthy Tongue Looks Like
The best way to check your tongue is by looking in a mirror and fully sticking your tongue out. It’s best to do this before you brush your teeth. If your tongue is healthy, it will be pink and covered in papillae, small bumps. If anything looks out of the ordinary, it may be a reason to be concerned.
Tongue Colors And What They Mean
Black – A tongue becomes black and hairy when there is a buildup of keratin, a structural protein that is found in hair, skin, and nails. It can be a sign of bad oral hygiene, a reaction to medication or tobacco, or from drinking dark-colored liquids.
White – White patches on the tongue can point to issues like oral thrush, which can cause trouble eating or swallowing, or leukoplakia, which often occurs from smoking.
Purple – One of the more serious colors, purple can be a result of bad blood circulation, a heart condition, or the rare Kawasaki disease.
Red – A red tongue, or strawberry tongue, can be due to a vitamin B deficiency or scarlet fever. It may also be an allergic reaction to a certain type of food.
Gray – If your tongue is a gray color and resembles a map, white-gray spots connected by white lines, this is most likely caused by eczema.
Yellow – Yellowing on the tongue is caused by an overabundance of bacteria, usually from not taking care of your teeth or dry mouth. A yellow tongue can also be a sign of more serious issues like jaundice or diabetes.
Orange – Like a yellow tongue, this is also caused by dry mouth or a lack of oral hygiene. Sometimes when your tongue turns an orange-like color, it may have occurred from simply eating a food high in beta carotene.
Green – A green tongue, just like a yellow or white tongue, is the result of an overabundance of bacteria.
Blue – If your tongue is blue, you probably require urgent medical attention. A blue tongue signifies that your tongue is not getting enough oxygen and blood flow.
Other Symptoms And What They Mean
Shape – Whenever you are looking at your tongue, be sure to look at the shape of your tongue for any abnormalities. This can include puffiness, thinness, or any odd shapes or indentations that you haven’t noticed before.
Coating – A thick coating or a coating of any color may be a sign of health issues such as digestive issues or an infection of some kind.
Pain – Of course, if you are suddenly experiencing pain on or around your tongue, you probably need to have it checked by a dentist. It may be a canker sore which can be easily remedied using over-the-counter treatments. If it doesn’t start healing in a few days, you may need to call your dentist.
When To Call The Dentist?
Anytime you notice something out of the ordinary or have a pain that you haven’t experienced before, it’s probably best to schedule an appointment. Please call us today at (574) 269-1787 if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above or to book your next regular checkup!