Did you know your tongue can do much more than help you taste your meals? Other than helping you identify flavors, it’s also one of the main indicators of the state of your oral health. By understanding its various textures, colors, and coatings, you’ll be able to understand more about your bodily condition. Keep reading to learn more about what your tongue says concerning your mouth and how to clean it correctly to preserve good overall health!
How Should Your Tongue Look?
A pink tongue is typically a healthy one, though the color can differ slightly in light or dark shades. It should also have small nodules on the top and bottom which are known as papillae. Should your tongue change drastically from a normal shade of pink, then you might assume that there’s an underlying or developing issue. An additional indication of an unhealthy tongue includes experiencing noticeable discomfort while chewing, drinking, or swallowing.
Here are several abnormal conditions of the tongue and what they mean:
- White tongue – Thick patches or lines on your tongue can indicate mild or disconcerting problems, like oral thrush, oral lichen planus, and leukoplakia.
- Yellow tongue – This is typically an indication of bacterial overgrowth. It can be due to several factors such as chewing tobacco, smoking, psoriasis, and even taking certain vitamins.
- Red tongue – A tongue might appear red due to scarlet fever, Kawasaki disease, and vitamin B deficiency.
- Black & hairy tongue – Although unsettling, this condition is generally harmless. While it’s typically a result of bacterial overgrowth, it can also be caused by diabetes, chemotherapy treatments, antibiotics, and poor oral hygiene.
Tips for Properly Cleaning Your Tongue
Cleaning your tongue is an essential part of your oral hygiene regimen. By keeping it healthy, you can end up reducing the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth that can result in plaque buildup, bad breath, and other health issues. To clean it, be sure to practice the following methods:
- Use a toothbrush – With a soft-bristled toothbrush, stick your tongue out as far as you can and begin brushing back and forth. Make sure to spit out any excess saliva, rinse the toothbrush with warm water, and repeat as necessary.
- Use a tongue scraper – Place the tongue scraper at the back of your tongue, press it down, and scrape towards the front. Rinse the tool with warm water to remove bacteria and debris, spit out any saliva, and repeat until you’ve cleaned the rest of your tongue.
With these few tips, you’ll be able to understand what the appearance of your tongue means and how to clean it properly. Be sure to notify your dentist if you notice any changes in its condition, and they’ll be glad to help you get back on track with good oral health!
About the Author
Dr. Suzanne Najjar earned her dental doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. She’s also a proud member of the Texas Dental Association and the American Dental Association. She provides a wide range of high-quality services, including dental checkups/cleanings, gum disease treatment, and antibiotic therapy. If you’d like to know more about caring for your tongue, visit her website or call 972-230-1100.