Tongue Health

What does a healthy tongue look like?

The colour will vary from person to person but it should be pink with little bumps on called papillae.

What can it mean if your tongue suddenly becomes deeper in colour?

A red, smooth tongue can indicate iron deficiency or a viral infection and any significant change in the colour of your tongue is worth getting checked by your dentist.

What can it mean if your tongue suddenly become pale?

Tongues can develop a white coating on them which may indicate a dry mouth. This can be caused by certain medication or be an age related change. Reduced saliva can mean your more likely to develop dental cavities and your dentist may prescribe you a high fluoride toothpaste to protect them. A white coating can also indicate lichen planus which is an inflammatory condition, this can also make the gums very red and sore. 

What about other sores or ulcers? Can this be a sign of poor health?

Ulcers are something that many people suffer from and can simply be the result of traumatising the mouth or tongue. However, ulcers and other abnormalities in mouth can actually be one of the first signs of an underlying health condition. Viruses including herpes can lead to mouth and tongue ulcers as well as iron deficiency and some medications including NSAIDS. 

What if our tongues become bumpier in texture? Does this happen/can it mean anything?

Sometimes the filiform papillae on the tongues surface can overgrow, making the tongue appear bumpy. Usually this is simply because the type of food being eaten is not abrasive enough and this can be rectified with a tongue scraper.

Are there any other tongue symptoms that can be related to our health?

There are many other tongue related changes which can indicate health conditions. 

Tongue cancer can present as white, red or mixed white / red patches or lumps. If you are concerned then visit your dentist for an oral cancer check, this is something dentists will do every time they check your teeth and is one reason why dental examinations are so important. 

Dr Imogen Bexfield, medical director at White Swan Aesthetics