Tongue Health is No Tongue-Twister!

Posted by on Mar 9, 2015 in Blogs | 0 comments

Girl Sticking Out TongueNever forget to brush your tongue! It’s often referred to as the “strongest muscle in the body,” yet it needs care. In this article, we will describe how you can care for your tongue, and then we will explain common health problems related to the tongue and what you should do if you see any symptoms of them. Armed with these facts, you can maintain a healthy mouth!Did you know that some toothbrushes are made specifically for your tongue? It’s true, but regular toothbrushes can get the job done too!  Place toothpaste on your brush and gently stroke your tongue from back to front to remove plaque and bacteria. Another option for brushing your tongue is to use a tongue scraper. Pull it across your tongue to clean it and improve your breath. Following these steps and practicing good oral hygiene, you can keep your tongue healthy!

Some people do develop tongue soreness or discoloration. Fortunately, these are often caused by easily treatable problems. One problem that people sometimes have is that their tongue develops a white coating or white spots. While there are a number of different conditions that can cause a tongue to have these symptoms, three of the most common causes of a “white tongue” include leukoplakia, oral thrush, and oral lichen planus. Leukoplakia occurs when too many cells grow in your mouth. The excessive amount of cells can cause white patches to form.  Although leukoplakia is usually not dangerous, it can sometimes be a precursor to cancer. A dentist can diagnose whether you have leukoplakia and inform you on how to treat it.

Oral thrush, also known as candidiasis, is another reason why some people have “white tongue.” Oral thrush is a yeast infection that can produce white patches on your mouth, including the tongue. It is especially common for infants and the elderly, individuals who use inhaled steroids to treat asthma or lung disease, and for those who have diabetes. It can also occur after a person uses antibiotics. See a dentist who can diagnose this infection and even provide you with medications to help cure it.

Oral lichen planus causes raised white lines to form on your tongue. Usually, doctors cannot diagnose the cause. Most of the time, this problem resolves on its own with time. Still, you can do your part to help your body get better by practicing proper dental hygiene and avoiding foods that irritate your mouth.

Other factors can cause a pink tongue to turn red. Vitamin deficiencies, geographic tongue (harmless condition causing red spots), scarlet fever, and kawasaki syndrome are frequent causes. If your tongue is an unhealthy red color, you may have vitamin deficiencies of B-12 or folic acid. You can simply take supplements in this situation. Kawasaki syndrome is an illness that affects the tongue’s blood vessels and is usually seen in children less than five years of age. Children may develop a red tongue, a high fever, and redness in the hands and feet. Be sure to bring the child to the doctor immediately.

Some people have a black, hairy tongue. Fortunately, this is almost always benign. Your tongue has small bumps called papillae, which grow throughout your lifetime. For most people, daily activities wear down their papillae. However, for others, these bumps can continue to grow long. When papillae are long, more bacteria can live on them and create a dark, hairy appearance. Usually, this condition is seen in people who aren’t practicing healthy dental hygiene or who are using chemotherapy or antibiotics. People with diabetes can also have this problem. Fortunately, a black, hairy tongue is usually not dangerous to your overall health.

 

Another common tongue condition involves painful, bumpy tongues. Causes include biting your tongue, canker sores, burning mouth syndrome, enlarged papillae, smoking, and other medical conditions.

Finally, be careful if you or someone has a swollen tongue. If the person also has trouble breathing, the person may have a severe allergic reaction and need emergency medical care. In rare cases, tongue problems can be symptoms of serious conditions, such as diabetes, anemia, and oral cancer can also cause tongue pain. Be sure to see a dentist and get a diagnosis if your pain is lasting for a significant amount of time. Follow these ideas to maintain a healthy tongue. Nobody wants a strawberry tongue!

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or smile@wellesleydentalgroup.com to set up an appointment and consultation.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. VanDr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/tc/basic-dental-care-home-treatment

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/tongue-problem-basics-sore-or-discolored-tongue-and-tongue-bumps

http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/tongue-scrapers

http://www.everydayhealth.com/allergies/swollen-tongue.aspx

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