Do I really need to pay attention to my tongue?

In short, the answer to this question is a resounding yes! Your tongue is an important part of your mouth, beyond its ability to taste the food you it. The tongue can reveal many things about the state of your oral health, or even a problem elsewhere in the body.

Dallas Fort Worth dentists often educate their patients on what signs to look for on the tongue that may indicate cause for concern.

If you’re examining your own tongue, begin by looking at its shade. It should be a healthy pink hue. If the tongue is black or gray, it may indicate an overgrowth of the tiny hairs found in between the taste buds—the papillae. A black tongue can also be the consequence of consuming certain antacids, so keep that in mind if you notice this sign.

Whether it’s you or your dentist looking at your tongue, you should also be on the lookout for unusual growths. A thickening or lump should be biopsied to determine if it’s cancerous. This is why it’s so important to take a look at your tongue periodically. If you spot a sign of trouble in an early stage, it likely will respond better to treatment.

White patches on the tongue should also get your attention, as they may be a symptom of leukoplakia, which results from an irritation of the mucous membranes of the tongue. In some cases, these white patches can also be a sign of oral cancer, so be sure to bring this issue to your dentist’s attention to have the spots examined.

The surface of your tongue can suggest different problems, too.  A normal tongue will have tiny bumps, making the tongue feel slightly rough. A smooth tongue can suggest some sort of nutritional deficiency.

Your dentist should be examining your tongue as part of your dental check-ups, and the dentist can point out any unusual symptoms so that you will have a better idea of what to look for when you are checking out your tongue on your own. Be sure to pay attention to anything your tongue may be telling you.