Grimes Dentist Asks: What is Your Tongue Telling You?

tongue smileChances are, you’re aware of at least a few of the issues that a toothache can indicate, such as a cavity or accidental trauma. Many people are also aware that swollen, bleeding gums typically mean periodontal disease is soon to develop, if it hasn’t already. However, do you know what your tongue is trying to tell you when it’s white, red, hairy, or otherwise abnormal in appearance? Your Grimes dentist, Dr. Ryan Hussong, offers a brief outline of common conditions of the tongue, and what they mean for the state of your oral and overall health.

Conditions of the Tongue

White tongue

The human tongue can take on a pale, white color in numerous forms, including white patches (some of which may have a cottage cheese-like consistency), and white lines with a lace-like appearance. White patches often indicate leukoplakia, a condition where cells grow excessively in the mouth. Leukoplakia normally isn’t dangerous on its own, but in some cases, it may indicate oral cancer.  

Red tongue

Vitamin deficiencies, scarlet fever, Kawasaki syndrome, and other factors can cause redness and small bumps to form on the tongue, at times lending it the appearance of a strawberry. If the reddish spots form a map-like pattern on the tongue’s surface, the condition is known as geographic tongue. The spots may be bordered with white, and their locations may shift, but geographic tongue typically resolves itself in time. If your tongue is sore or uncomfortable, or if the redness persists for more than two weeks, then visit our office as soon as possible.

Black/hairy tongue

The small bumps on your tongue are called papillae, and sometimes, they grow excessively long, lending a tongue a hairy, dark-colored texture. A hairy tongue is visually disturbing, but nothing serious, though the overgrown papillae can harbor oral bacteria and increase the risk of dental disease.

Call Your Grimes Dentist Today

To learn more about the various conditions of the tongue, schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong by calling your Grime dentist’s office at (515) 984-6001. Located in the 50226 area, Cornerstone Dental proudly welcomes families from Des Moines, Polk City, Ames, Ankeny, Alleman, Bondurant, Grimes, Johnston, and the surrounding communities.