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What Your Tongue Says About Your Oral Health

Posted on 6/23/2017 by Mark Bieber
A close up of a man’s tongue.
Taking care of your mouth is important. Regular brushing and flossing helps to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

You might think that skipping a session every once in a while isn't really going to do you that much harm, and who's going to notice? But there's one part of your mouth that can give you away to skimping on your routine: your tongue.

White Patches

While white patches don't always point to an oral health issue, it can be an indicator of a yeast overgrowth (Candida). You will be able to tell the difference with a little extra work in your oral hygiene routine.

Brush your tongue when you brush your teeth. If the white patches are still there after a week or two, it is most likely yeast, and should be treated with an antifungal wash.

Coated Tongue

A tongue coated in a white film can often point to dehydration. Dehydration can be a serious problem for your oral health. Without sufficient water, your salivary glands won't function properly.

Saliva is important for killing bacteria and washing it away. Without it, your teeth and gums are at risk for attack. Be sure to drink enough water. In some instances, a coated tongue could also point to yeast, so don't forget to brush it.

Stripes on your tongue could point to a condition known as oral lichen planus, which means that your immune system is fighting cells on your tongue. It is often linked to tooth decay and gum disease, and can be very serious if not treated. Some symptoms, aside from the stripes, include dry mouth and pain. If you notice these, you should make an appointment with your dentist.

Red and Swollen
If your tongue is red and swollen, and is accompanied by a high fever, it's often an indicator of scarlet fever, which warrants a trip to the doctor right away. Otherwise, a red and swollen tongue could point to a vitamin deficiency. And a vitamin deficiency puts your mouth at risk for weak teeth and a weak jaw.

Your tongue can tell you a lot about your oral health. If something looks off, be sure to contact our office immediately.

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