What Does Tongue Colour Reveal About a Person’s Health?
Dental professionals examine more than just your teeth during check-ups. Tongue health can be an indicator for many overall health conditions. Colour, texture, and coating changes should be discussed with your team at Clayburn Dental. Oral cancer screenings are part of regular check-ups. Dentists look for red or white areas and ulcers. Herbalists and naturopaths inspect the tongue for signs of vitamin deficiencies and allergies, plus digestive and circulation issues.
When the body is lacking B vitamins or iron, the tongue tends to be bright red. Nutrient deficiencies zap energy and affect red blood cell growth and nervous system functioning.
Inflamed papillae often trap bacteria resulting in a yellow tongue. Smoking, fever, dehydration, and mouth breathing can cause this type of inflammation.
Hemoglobin deficiencies often show up in the mouth as a pale tongue. It can also signal a build-up of debris from dead cells to bacteria within the papillae.
Oral thrush and dehydration are potential causes of a white tongue. Smoking and other irritants make a tongue white due to an excessive growth of cells called leukoplakia.
Purple or Blue
Purple or bluish tongues usually indicate circulation issues. High cholesterol, some heart problems, and chronic bronchitis affect the amount of oxygen that enters the bloodstream, often resulting in a purple tongue.
Whether an overall brown hue or a brown spot, it could be an early sign of melanoma. Make an appointment with your doctor or dentist right away.
What a Healthy Tongue Should Look Like
Think pink, with a light white coat. The coating is not too thick or thin on a healthy tongue. It is also free of cracks, sores, and ulcers. Texture-wise, a healthy tongue is a bit fuzzy thanks to small hairs called papillae between taste buds.
Tongue Coating and Texture Indicators
Since healthy digestion shows up as a light white coating, if the tongue’s coating is thick, shiny, red, or missing it is an indication something is awry. When the body’s systems experience the effects of overeating or eating an unhealthy diet, a thicker than normal tongue coat is often the result. Dehydration tends to make the tongue’s coat shiny, reddish, and wet looking. Exhaustion can manifest as a lack of a tongue coat altogether.
A dry tongue is often caused by swollen salivary glands due to a stress overload. If the tongue is both dry and furry, it could be caused by too much mucus.
Furrows and wrinkles that get deeper and more pronounced over time are pretty harmless. These grooves make spicy foods burn a bit more than usual and can make it difficult to keep the tongue bacteria free.
Bacterial and viral infections may show up as bumps on the tongue. Some food and medication allergies also cause bumps.
Tips for Improving Tongue Health
- Keep your digestive system balanced with fermented foods.
- Eat healthy more often than not. The 80/20 principle suggests we eat healthy meals 80 percent of the time with minimal indulgence the other 20 percent.
- Foods rich in iron like lean red meat, shellfish, and nuts are essential for red blood cell health.
- Brush at least twice a day and floss once. Use a tongue scraper to clean bacteria and debris from your tongue.
- Certain tongue conditions benefit from the addition of garlic, ginger, coriander and other warming spices.
- Cut tobacco and excessive alcohol use out of your life.
If you notice a change in your tongue, don’t be afraid to ask the team at Clayburn Dental. We are here to offer professional dental care when you notice something unusual in your mouth. Our dentists work to determine the cause and to correct underlying health issues. Give us a call at 604-582-8487.