7 Shocking Things You Never Knew Your Tongue will Tell You

Don’t wait until you are at the doctors or in the dentist’s chair to open wide. Taking a good look at your tongue every now and then can help you detect issues you might have in your mouth, or even in other parts of your body. A quick look now can save you from more serious problems later on. So grab a mirror, stick it out, and give your tongue a quick once over.

Check out the 6 things your tongue can tell you about your health.

The Tasty Tongue.

Photo credit: bigstock

1. A dry, white, glossy tongue

This is usually a sign of a dry mouth, or xerostomia. This happens when your mouth doesn’t make enough saliva. Unfortunately, this can cause you an uncomfortable feeling in your mouth as well as affect the bacteria balance inside your mouth. This can change the color and appearance of your tongue. A lack of saliva can increase your risk of cavities and gum disease, as well as oral infections. If dry mouth is a problem for you, it’s sometimes related to medications, hypertension, asthma, or even just plain old allergies. Talk to your doctor about this problem or you can try to treat it yourself with over the counter mouthwashes that are made for this condition.


2. Swelling

Of all the problems you might encounter, this is the one you should pay the most attention to. A swollen tongue generally means that you are having an allergic reaction to something. The tongue itself is not the problem, but rather the swelling of the airway behind the tongue that pushes your tongue forward, making it appear as though it’s swollen. If you don’t take immediate action, your airway can become blocked by this swelling and cause a life threatening situation. Always seek medical attention immediately.


SEE ALSO: Oral Allergy Syndrome 6 Ways to Avoid an Itchy Tingling Mouth

3. A swollen, grey or white balloon under your tongue

This could be a blocked salivary gland. Occasionally, something very, very small blocks the salivary duct so they can’t drain. This causes fluid to build up and this creates pain and swelling. Salivary stones are the most common causes of a clogged duct. It’s a calcium stone, very similar to a kidney stone. Many times they go away on their own, but if yours doesn’t resolve itself in a few days, make an appointment with your dentist. It might have to be surgically removed.


4. Sores with a ring or halo around them

A normal, healthy tongue is pink and fairly smooth with no lumps, no bumps. Red or white patches on your tongue, or a spot with a red ring surrounding it, white areas that look like lace, or a sore that doesn’t heal, means you should notify your doctor or dentist as soon as possible. These might be signs of cancer. Although many other types of cancer are on the decline, oral cancer has increased as much as 25 percent over the past 10 years. This is possibly due to HPV (human papilloma virus), which increases the risk of oral cancer. Read also about cancer signs many women miss.


5. A black, hairy looking tongue

Are you taking or have you just finished taking antibiotics? A course of antibiotics interrupts the normal bacteria balance in your yap and this can cause of overgrowth on your tongue of little projections called papillae (find out why antibiotics are bad news for your health). Instead of coming off normally, these continue to grow and make your tongue look like its growing hair. It’s pretty harmless and should disappear on its own but it does cause bad breath and for some people, it even affects their ability to taste their food. Brush your teeth and tongue really well with a toothbrush every day and your mouth will soon return to normal.


6. A thick, reddish looking tongue

You just might have a vitamin deficiency. When you have a vitamin B12 deficiency, your tongue is the first place that shows. This vitamin is absolutely essential for your body to make healthy, new red blood cells. A lack of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia. Anemia may leave your tongue feeling sore and it’s sometimes takes on a “beefy” appearance. If you eat a normal US diet, you more than likely get sufficient amounts of B12 because it’s found in eggs, fish, meat, and milk. However, many vegans suffer from a B12 deficiency and there are some disorders of the digestive system, such as Crohn’s or celiac disease that prevents them from getting enough of this important vitamin. Taking a multivitamin daily can help you avoid this problem.


7. Yellow tongue

This usually means that there is a large amount of bacteria overgrowth in your mouth and that you need to practice better oral hygiene! Now if you do practice good hygiene, then a yellow tongue could mean you are having liver or gallbladder issues. See your doctor if you have been diligent about your oral hygiene routine, but your tongue is still yellow.