What Your Tongue Can Tell You About Your Overall Health

Posted on April 24, 2019

We all know that our tongue helps us chew and swallow food properly, but did you know it can tell us more about our overall health? A healthy tongue should be pinkish-red with small nodules called “papillae” covering the surface. If you notice any long-term changes in the color or texture of your tongue, it could be a sign of one or more of the following conditions.

Thrush  “Oral Candidiasis”

Thrush is a fungal yeast infection that looks like a heavy white coating on your tongue. It can be caused by taking antibiotics or having a weakened immune system. Thrush can be a sign of diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, and even AIDS. People with diabetes also tend to have dry mouths and can easily become dehydrated.


A tongue that is bright red in color could be a sign that you are deficient in folic acid, vitamin B12, or iron. It could also be an indication of strep throat or a rare but treatable condition called, Kawasaki Disease that causes inflammation of blood vessels.

Canker Sores

Canker Sores can appear on the tongue or other areas in the mouth. They are often caused by stress, but can also appear after biting your tongue. To alleviate this pain, rinse with warm salt water and stick to soft foods that will not irritate the canker sore.


People who smoke and drink excessively are more prone to mouth cancer and should see their doctor if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Red or white patches called “Oral Leukoplakia” appear on the tongue or lining of the mouth
  • Sores that won’t heal
  • A lump on the tongue that won’t go away
  • Pain in the tongue, jaw, throat, neck or ears when swallowing
  • An area of swelling that lasts more than three weeks
  • Numbness in the mouth
  • Bleeding from the tongue for no particular reason
  • Problems swallowing or chewing food

How to maintain a healthy tongue

To keep your tongue and mouth as healthy as possible, remember to brush both your teeth AND your tongue twice a day along with flossing. We encourage you to avoid sugary drinks and always consume plenty of water throughout the day.

Categories: Oral Health, Orthodontic Treatment
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