You probably make it a habit to inspect your teeth and gums for irregularities when you brush and floss. But how often do you look at your tongue? Not many patients realize that their tongue can be one of the first indicators of poor oral health and overall health. The color and texture of your tongue can offer clear clues to our dentists about your health. If you notice any of the following symptoms, it’s best to see one of our Orlando dentists right away.
Thickened white patches that appear on the tongue, the insides of the cheeks, or the bottom of the mouth are called leukoplakia. Many of these lesions are benign, but some can be early indicators for cancer and should be checked out by a dentist. White spots or a white coating over the tongue might suggest oral thrush, a yeast infection that develops inside the mouth. Patients could be at risk of oral thrush if they have diabetes, use inhaled steroids, or take antibiotics.
Tiny fleshy bumps on the tongue, or papillae, can grow and harbor bacteria, making the tongue appear black or hair-like. A tongue that appears black and hairy can suggest diabetes, a yeast infection, or poor oral hygiene. A black, hairy tongue can also develop in response to certain cancer therapies. Our team recommends scheduling a dentist’s appointment right away when patients have this problem.
Scalloped edges along the tongue may be due to the way the teeth press into the tongue during sleep. Other ridges and indentations, including a long crack down the middle of the tongue, are completely normal. Be sure to brush your tongue daily and follow proper brushing habits to dislodge any food particles that can get stuck in the cracks or ridges.
Striping or webbing on the tongue, especially if accompanied by open sores, a burning sensation, or pain, suggests an inflammatory condition called oral lichen planus. It could resolve on its own, but it is best to have an experienced dentist evaluate your mouth because of the risk of mouth cancer.