There’s a reason your doctor looks at your tongue during checkups apart from checking if it’s swollen or not. As it turns out the color of your tongue can reveal a thing or two about the condition of your health and more.
Naturopath Laurence Kirk of The British College of Naturopath and Osteopathy said that there are a lot of things one can learn from simply checking their tongue. “Your tongue is richly supplied with blood vessels, and thanks to a constant flow of saliva, it is constantly being cleaned which discourages harmful bacteria forming in the mouth area. However, if a person is unwell, a problem can often be detected by simply looking at the tongue,” he said.
A change in appearance of your tongue can have different meanings, from vitamin deficiency to dental hygiene. But there are times when that change can suggest that you need to seek serious medical attention.
Check these colors and what could they mean:
1. Black Tongue
A tongue with black patches especially along the center surface could mean that it has trapped bacteria and yeast. Diet and habits like smoking can also blacken the surface area.
Some medications, including antibiotics can also turn your tongue black. Dehydration from too much coffee and smoking can also change your tongue into this color.
Bottom line is black could often mean poor dental hygiene.
2. Yellow Tongue
Similar to black tongue, yellow tongue occurs when there are trapped bacteria in your tongue’s surface. The only difference is the type of bacteria that gets trapped. Inflammation through dehydration due to smoking is also seen as probable cause.
Like the first case, a more meticulous dental hygiene is advised to solve the problem.
3. White Tongue
A white tongue can mean be due to a variety of reasons:
Dehydration – easily rectified by drinking more water
Oral thrush – a type yeast infection, or candida, can cause white sores to appear on your tongue as well as walls of your mouth. People with compromised immune system as well as infants and the elderly are susceptible to candida.
Leukoplakia – Leukoplakia is an excessive growth of cells in your mouth and tongue. It is a common negative reaction of your mouth to irritants and is often seen in smokers. Some preliminary researches have linked leukoplakia to oral cancer.
4. Red or Strawberry Tongue
Some people might find a red tongue attractive but a bright shade of it could mean a few medical problems. Your tongue can turn bright red or strawberry when your taste buds become swollen and that’s never a good thing.
Vitamin and mineral deficiency – Deficiency in folic acid and vitamin B-12 can cause this change in color.
Scarlet fever – Bacterial infection such as streptococcal infection can give your tongue strawberry color. This is often followed by high fever so better seek medical help ASAP.
Kawasaki disease – Kawasaki disease or simply KD is common in children aged 5 and below, although older children up to teenage can also affect it. It causes the victim’s blood vessels throughout the body to be inflamed – which explains why the tongue turns into bright red.
5. Brown Tongue
A brown tongue can suggest that you have an early stage of skin cancer called melanoma. Consult your doctor immediately.
BONUS: How to take care of your tongue
1. Stop smoking and refrain from using any tobacco product
2. Reduce alcohol consumption
3. Regularly eat organic yoghurt or take drinks with natural probiotics
4. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss regularly
5. Use organic mouthwash
6. If you cannot brush after meal make sure to gargle with thoroughly