The human tongue is often referred to as the most powerful muscle in the body. But your tongue is actually comprised of eight muscles working together as a multi-use tool. Washington Irving once said, “The tongue is the only instrument that gets sharper with use.” Both wars and romances have begun with words rolling off the tongue, and a healthy one helps us taste food, swallow, and talk.
- Leukoplakia: Cells of the tongue sometimes overgrow and produce a white film or patch, especially in areas of irritation. Tobacco is a well-known irritant along with ill-fitting dentures. Leukoplakia isn’t dangerous, but it can lead to cancer in some cases. This should be evaluated.
- Thrush: Oral thrush, or candidiasis, is a yeast infection that can lead to excessive, thick white patches. Babies and elderly patients sometimes get thrush, a condition that may thrive under dentures also. Diabetics, immune-compromised patients, or people using antibiotics may develop candidiasis. We can help if you’re dealing with thrush.
- Lichen Planus: This condition has an unclear cause, but it’s marked by raised white lines interlaced on your tongue. Sometimes eliminating certain foods or improving your oral home care will bring things back to normal.
- Vitamin Deficiencies: The tongue may take on a generalized reddish appearance if you lack B-12 or folic acid.
- Scarlet Fever: If you come down with a high fever and a red tongue, you need to see your doctor right away. If you have Scarlet Fever, antibiotics are required.
- Geographic Tongue: If you notice red dots with meandering borders resembling a map, you may have this condition. While it’s benign, certain ointments can be prescribed if it results in any discomfort.
- Remember the papillae mentioned earlier? Sometimes they overgrow and become a haven for bacteria and stain. Chemotherapy, diabetic, or antibiotic patients may also deal with black hairy tongue. While it doesn’t look pleasant and can contribute to bad breath, it rarely indicates a serious problem. Usually better oral hygiene and tongue cleaning will take care of it, and our team can help you find a personalized strategy to deal with it.