Have you ever inspected your tongue? Believe it or not, your tongue’s appearance says a lot about your health. For example, a black tongue can signal poor oral hygiene, and it’s also one of the first symptoms of diabetes.
Start paying attention to your tongue’s health, and don’t ignore any irregularities. Continue reading to learn more about the correlation between your tongue and physical well-being.
Understanding Your Tongue’s Anatomy
It’s easy to downplay your tongue’s role because most people only pay attention to their teeth when it comes to oral health. However, your tongue is a muscular organ that deserves as much attention and care as the rest of your body. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to chew, swallow food, or talk.
Covered in moist, pink tissue called mucosa, your tongue has papillae, tiny bumps that give your tongue its rough texture. Taste buds are a collection of nerve-like cells that connect to nerves running into your brain. Thousands of them cover the surfaces of your papillae.
A tongue is anchored to the mouth by webs of tough tissue and mucosa. The tether holding down the front of the tongue is called the frenum. Tongues are attached to the hyoid bone in the back of the mouth.
The four familiar tastes are sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. Your tongue has thousands of nerves that detect and transmit taste signals to your brain. Additionally, there’s a fifth taste called umami, which you can experience by tasting glutamate.
White Patches on Your Tongue
If you notice white patches on your tongue, don’t worry just yet. Most of the time, white patches aren’t an indicator of poor oral health. However, sometimes they’re linked to an overgrowth of yeast in your mouth.
Brush your teeth twice a day and pay extra attention to your tongue for the next two weeks; brush it for 30 seconds. If the patches are still there, you likely have an oral yeast infection.
Fortunately, you can cure this condition at home by brushing your teeth every day and using an antifungal mouth rinse.
Black Hairy Tongue
Black hairy tongue is a condition that can stem from an oral yeast infection, diabetes, cancer therapies, or poor oral hygiene. Usually, a tongue becomes black and hairy due to a buildup of dead skin cells on the papillae.
You don’t need medical care for this condition; all you have to do is practice oral hygiene and brush your tongue with a tongue scraper.
Dark Red Tongue
Your tongue usually turns red when you have a sore throat. However, if it’s strawberry red and you have a headache, you might have scarlet fever; it’s time to take a trip to your doctor’s office. A red, swollen tongue can also be a symptom of vitamin deficiency. Take your vitamins and brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth.
Contact Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah
If your tongue’s irregularities persist, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist might recommend you to an oral surgeon if they detect you have an underlying condition that needs advanced treatment. The board-certified surgeons at Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah are experts in all fields of oral care. Schedule your consultation today.