Have you taken a good look at your tongue lately? In fact it can tell you quite a bit about your overall health and although most problems are not serious, they can occasionally indicate vitamin deficiencies, or may even be a precursor to oral cancer, so it’s worth being aware of any changes.
Why Does My Tongue Look White?
There is a condition called leukoplakia where cells grow excessively, leading to the formation of white patches. Leukoplakia can develop if the tongue is irritated and is more often found in smokers. Although not normally serious, leukoplakia can sometimes be an early indication of cancer so it’s important to get it checked out.
Oral thrush can create white patches on the tongue and this tends to be more common in the very young and the elderly, or in those whose immune systems have been weakened. Some people find eating plain yoghurt helpful, but it is possible to get medication for oral thrush.
Why Do I Have a Red Tongue?
A red tongue could be due to vitamin deficiencies, particularly folic acid and B-12 or it could be caused by a condition called geographic tongue where red patches develop on the surface, creating a map-like appearance. Geographic tongue is generally harmless and won’t normally require any treatment, but check with us if the patches last any longer than a couple of weeks.
What about a Black Hairy Tongue?
This can look pretty alarming but is not usually serious. It is caused by the papillae on the tongue overgrowing so they are more likely to trap bacteria. Black hairy tongue is more common in people who do not have good oral hygiene, or who are on antibiotics or receiving chemotherapy.