What Your Tongue Says About Your Dental Health


Did you know that a person is born with around 10,000 taste buds on their tongue? Our tongues do a lot for us beyond helping us taste foods. Without one, we wouldn't be able to talk, chew food, or even swallow properly.

Your tongue plays a crucial role in your oral health, but how to properly care for it isn't talked about enough. The state of your tongue tells a lot about your overall health.

This guide will discuss common tongue problems and how you can avoid them developing into significant health concerns in the future.


What Are Some Common Tongue Problems?

There are a few common tongue problems that people can encounter often. They include:

  • Swelling

  • Pain

  • Impaired taste

  • Irritation

If you're experiencing any of the above problems, it is recommended to contact a dentist right away.


What Should a Healthy Tongue Look Like?

A healthy or normal tongue is covered with tiny bumps called papillae. It should also be pink. How pink your tongue is can vary, so long as it's not red.

If your tongue is another color or has patches of black, white, red, or another color, you might have a health issue going on. Having no bumps at all or having bumps on your tongue that are abnormally large may be another cause for concern.


What Are the Different Tongue Conditions?

There are a few different tongue conditions that affect its color and appearance. Let's go over some of the most common ones.


White Spots or Coating

There are a few reasons why your tongue might be covered in thick white coating, including:

  • Leukoplakia: Oral cells growing excessively

  • Oral Thrush: A yeast infection of the mouth

  • Oral Lichen Planus: Inflammatory condition that causes white lines to appear on the tongue

Red Coloring

If your tongue is red, the likely cause is that you're not consuming enough vitamins. Your body might be deficient in iron or vitamin B12.

An inflamed, red tongue is often a sign of infection or nutritional deficiency. Your tongue has many taste buds which give it its vibrant color, but it’s also one of the most visible parts of your body and often gives away that you’re not feeling well. You might also experience intense pain when eating spicy foods or drinking hot drinks.


Black and Hairy Tongue

The small bumps on your tongue grow every day, just like your hair. If left untreated, they start growing more and become more prone to collecting bacteria. Over time, the bumps will look dark and hair in appearance.

While this sounds alarming, this is a common condition that's not serious. Staying on top of your dental health will help you avoid this problem. Make sure your brush twice a day and get routine dental cleanings. Schedule a dental appointment in the issue persists.


Speak to Your Calgary Dentist About Your Tongue

The condition of your tongue can be a strong indicator of your oral health. A healthy, pink tongue with no sores, bumps, or discoloration is a good sign that your mouth is free from bacteria and in good health. However, if you notice anything unusual about your tongue, it could be a sign that something is wrong with your health. It indicates whether you practice good oral hygiene habits or suffering from an underlying health issue. When you meet with your dentist at your next dental cleaning, ask them about how your tongue looks.

Want to learn more about dental hygiene in Calgary? Schedule an appointment with Northland Village Dental Centre to learn how to stay on top of your oral health!