When considering your oral hygiene routine, most people think about their teeth. While you certainly should be focusing on keeping your teeth cleaned and monitoring changes in your dental health, you should also pay attention to your tongue. Your tongue, just like your fingerprint, is a one-of-a-kind feature, and it can hold powerful information about your overall health. In addition, neglecting to brush your tongue means you are ignoring a large surface of bacteria – which can lead to embarrassing bad breath and other unwanted dental problems.
While it may look awkward, checking out your tongue in the mirror is important. When looking at your tongue, there are several features you should examine. Changes in your tongue can signal everything from a nutritional deficiency to an allergy or virus. Sometimes a change in your tongue is nothing to worry about at all, but it is certainly worth evaluating. You can start keeping tabs on your tongue by noting any changes in color and surface, including any bumps or sores.
Surface. If you become familiar with your tongue surface, you can easily detect sudden changes in texture and appearance. For example, if you notice that your tongue feels especially smooth and looks pale, you may have an iron deficiency. Other conditions, such as scrotal tongue, are known for its deep grooves and wrinkled surface.
Bumps. A cold sore may be hard to ignore on your tongue, as these raised lesions can be very tender and uncomfortable. Bumps that are caused by a virus will typically go away on their own in about a week. However, if you have a persistent bump or sore on your tongue that will not go away, ask your dentist for an oral cancer screening. Regardless of their color or level of discomfort, always pay attention to new sores or bumps on your tongue.
Color: Any discrepancy from the common healthy pink color may be a sign that you are overdoing it with certain habits. It could also be a symptom of an underlying condition. For example, a very red tongue could be the first sign of scarlet fever or Kawasaki disease in a child or a vitamin B deficiency in an adult. If you notice that your tongue has taken on a black or yellow appearance, you may need to start brushing your tongue better to reduce inflammation and clean out trapped bacteria on your tongue’s surface. In addition, dry mouth or dehydration can make your tongue look paler in color.
The next time you grab your toothbrush and begin your oral hygiene routine in front of the mirror, take some time to say “ahh.” A closer relationship with your tongue can help you detect important changes in your oral health and overall health. Remember, you’ve got more oral bacteria than cells in your body, so make sure your brushing routine includes all areas of your mouth. Contact Dental Care Acworth to learn more about taking care of your oral health from home.