A healthy tongue is light pink in color. If you notice yours looks different, you'll want to figure out whats going on so you can get back to normal as soon as possible.
Here's a guide to what the color of your tongue means for your health, and what you should be doing about it.
The types of tongue colors you should look out for are as follows:
1. White tongue: White tongue could either mean oral thrush or leukoplakia.
Leukoplakia is a thick or heavy white coating on the surface of the tongue. It can come from cigarette smoke or irritation to the tongue.
Oral thrush looks like a layer of cottage cheese on the tongue, and is often associated with diabetes or weakened immune systems.
Leukoplakia is most common in people who smoke a lot. Smoking is never healthy.
It may take time to notice you have the condition. Leukoplakia builds gradually until it gets out of hand, so it may not be noticed by the person.
2. Brown tongue: Usually a brown tongue comes from what you’re eating or drinking: A brown discoloration of the tongue can be due to heavy coffee drinking and/or smoking.
If your tongue is permanently brown, it could mean you're experiencing lung problems due to chronic smoking.
3. Blue or purple tongue: A blue or purple tongue can be an indicator of heart trouble.
If the heart is not pumping blood properly, or if there is a lack of oxygen in the blood, your tongue can turn a bluish purple. If you see blue or purple tongue, definitely see your doctor immediately.
4. Pale tongue:
A pale-colored tongue can indicate a vitamin or nutrition deficiency specifically vitamin B12 and vitamin A. This can easily be corrected by seeing your doctor where he might suggest a diet change or supplements.
Try eating more foods rich in vitamin A, like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and kale vegetables as well as foods rich in vitamin B12, like liver, fish, beef, and fortified cereal.
If you notice something strange on your tongue, stay calm and don’t try to self-diagnose. Go to a medical or dental professional for advice.
5. Sore and bumpy tongue: Painful bumps on your tongue can be due to:
a. Trauma: Accidentally biting your tongue or scalding it on something straight out of the oven can result in a sore tongue until the damage heals. Grinding or clenching your teeth can also irritate the sides of your tongue and cause it to become painful.
b. Smoking: Smoking irritates your tongue, which can cause soreness.
c. Canker sores: It is also called Mouth ulcers. The cause is unknown, but stress is believed to be a factor. Canker sores normally heal without treatment within a week or two.
d. Oral cancer: A lump or sore on your tongue that doesn’t go away within two weeks could be an indication of oral cancer. Keep in mind that many oral cancers don’t hurt in the early stages, so don’t assume a lack of pain means nothing is wrong.
6. Black and hairy tongue: This can happen when there’s a build up of bacteria, or if you’re a regular smoker.
Treatment includes good oral hygiene, including brushing three times a day, flossing, and not smoking. In fact, smokers should get one or two extra cleanings per year.
7. Yellow tongue: This can signify liver or stomach problems. A yellow tongue can be the gradual start of disease, leading to a brown or black-colored tongue down the line.
The most common causes of a yellow tongue can be poor dental hygiene, smoking, or certain medications. Improving your dental hygiene is an easy fix however, if you do not see any improvement, you should get it checked out by a medical professional.
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