You probably notice on your tongue you’ve got bumps, spots, and patches that can be harmless, but they also can give an indication to what is going on in your mouth, and body. Infections, medications, stress, and aging can make marks on the tongue, and you can find out what your tongue is telling you with this helpful guide.
White patches, which are creamy and pretty obvious can mean a few things, including thrush, or a fungal infection, or it can happen after illnesses or medications throw off the bacteria balance within the mouth. If they look lacy, it could be lichen planus, which means that your immune system is attacking the mouth tissues. If you see hard, white, and flat areas that can’t be scraped away, that’s leukoplakia, which is linked to cancer, so always talk to your doctor or dentist about white patches.
If your tongue has hair on it that look black, brown, or white, you might have a “hairy” tongue, and essentially that’s proteins that turn the normal bumps on the mouth into strands that are longer, where bacteria and food get caught. You can make it go away when you brush and scrape it. If you can’t scrape it off, it might be oral hairy leukoplakia, and it can happen if you have HIV or Epstein-Barr.
Hairy tongue can also be black in terms of color, and your mouth could go dark after you’ve taken antacids with bismuth in it. It can stain the tongue with saliva, and usually, it’ll be harmless once you stop taking this.
Then there is a bright red tongue. Now tongues usually have a pinkish red, but if it’s more of a straw-berry-red, that’s a sign of Kawasaki disease, which is a rare, but serious illness that causes the blood vessels to be inflamed, and this mostly happens in children. it’s also a symptom of scarlet fever as well. However, if it’s also smooth, and you’ve got some mouth pain, it also can indicate that your body doesn’t have enough B3.
If your tongue feels like it’s scaling, or tastes bitter or metallic, this is burning mouth syndrome, and it can be caused by dry mouth, infections, diabetes, and acid reflux, or acidic foods can make the mouth burn as well.
Finally, there is the instance of a tongue that doesn’t have any bumps, looking smooth and a glossy red. This is when you don’t get enough nutrients such as iron, folic acid, or even B vitamins. If you have patches of this next to the bumpy ones, it’s geographic tongue, where the spots can come and leave, and sometimes they do burn and hurt. Occasionally, this can be linked to psoriasis or even lichen planus.
The tongue is an interesting part of the body, and it can say a lot more about you than you’d think. Here, we discussed what your tongue can mean for your oral health, and why it matters too.