The tongue is instrumental in allowing us to speak clearly, to taste our foods and in chewing. But did you know the tongue can also speak volumes about your health? Our friendly dentist at Fairview Park wants our patients to know about all aspects of their oral health, and points out that the tongue’s importance may be overlooked in this regard.
Here are some facts to digest about the tongue’s role in our health and how to properly keep it clean:
Watch for colors and patterns:
- A white-coated tongue often results from a buildup of leftover food particles or bacteria from plaque, signaling poor oral hygiene or dry mouth.
- A yellowish color can be a sign of acid reflux or infection.
- A smooth and pale tongue may indicate a low level of iron or anemia.
- Red bumps and swelling may be a sign of strep throat, or an allergy to a medication or a type of food.
- A dark color ominously known as black hairy tongue may be the result of tobacco use and some foods or medications. A poor oral hygiene routine and/or dry mouth contributes to this condition.
Keep it clean:
- Besides daily brushing and flossing, make sure to clean your tongue twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush or a tongue scraper.
- Put a small dab of toothpaste on your brush, and, applying gentle but firm pressure, brush from the back of the tongue forward in back-and-forth motions.
- Pull the tongue scraper from the back of the tongue forward several times at varying angles.
- Rinse your mouth afterward.
Although some conditions affecting the tongue may resolve on their own, others could be indicating a serious condition and should be examined by our dentist at Fairview Park. If your tongue has taken on a distinct color that doesn’t change in a week or two, please don’t hesitate to contact our office for an appointment.