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Tongue Problems and What You Can Do to Prevent Them

Are you curious about what you could be doing for your tongue today?  We utilize our tongues every day to speak, eat, and even breathe. It’s important to factor in the health of your tongue when developing your oral hygiene routine.

It’s possible to contract some common oral ailments that can lead to tongue problems.  Therefore, it is critical to understand what you can do to maximize your oral health and prevent these problems from arising.

In this post, we examine common tongue issues and prevention measures.

1. Tongue Discoloration

A discolored tongue is one of the most common tongue problems out there, and it can occur for a variety of reasons.

A White Tongue

It’s possible to develop a tongue with whitish patches or spots. If you do notice white patches on your tongue, it’s important to consult a doctor immediately.  This is because a white tongue can indicate a yeast infection called oral thrush.   A white tongue is also linked to leukoplakia, which may be a precursor to cancer and oral lichen planus.

While all of these conditions are not dangerous in themselves, they often lead to compromised oral health down the road. Leukoplakia and oral thrush may also require medication as treatment.  The best way to prevent any of these conditions from occurring is to practice good oral hygiene. In particular, you can prevent a white tongue by not using any tobacco products.  It’s also essential to choose foods that aren’t likely to irritate your mouth.  You should consume a diet that is plant-based and mild.  You may also wish to consult a nutritionist to ask about foods that can ensure your mouth carries the right bacteria at all times.

A Red Tongue

Your tongue is naturally a pink color. It can become red or carry red patches due to a variety of factors.  If your tongue turns a bright pink color, this is an indication of vitamin deficiency. Individuals who are allergic to gluten may experience a vivid pink tongue if they consume gluten.  Supplement your diet with the following vitamins to prevent discoloration: Vitamin B-12, folic acid, and iron.

You can also develop a red tongue due to scarlet fever or benign migratory glossitis, a condition that creates a red and white pattern on your tongue’s surface. Consult a doctor if you believe you have scarlet fever.  Miigratory glossitis is benign.  However, you may wish to consult a physician for medication, in the case that it becomes painful.  You can prevent glossitis by practicing proper oral hygiene.  This includes brushing your teeth vigorously twice a day, maintaining a flossing regime, and avoiding sugary foods and tobacco.

2. A Sore Tongue

When it comes to common tongue problems, most people will cite a sore tongue. Your tongue can become sore quite easily, despite being one of the strongest muscles in your body.  Tongue pain can certainly arise if you accidentally bite your tongue. Biting your tongue can actually lead to a minor infection, which can be quite painful.  People commonly acquire canker sores, which appear as white or yellow sores near or on the tongue. These can be painful and often surface for unknown reasons.  However, you can typically prevent canker sores by regularly cleaning your mouth of bacteria. You may wish to use a dentist-recommended mouthwash regularly, for example. Lastly, smoking and acidic substances (like coffee) can lead to all kinds of tongue pain.

It is important to make sure that your toothbrush isn’t too abrasive and that you use sensitive toothpaste, in order to prevent cutting or damaging your tongue during brushing. You should also avoid smoking and consuming excessive amounts of acidic liquids.  If you do develop an oral infection due to accidentally biting your tongue, seek medical attention right away.

3. Enlarged or Malfunctioning Taste Buds

Many tongue problems involve inflamed, enlarged, or otherwise malfunctioning taste buds on the tongue itself.  You can inflame your taste buds simply by irritating them through aggressive or accidental chewing. It’s also possible to irritate taste buds by smoking or consuming tobacco products.  You may experience enlarged taste buds if you have anemia or diabetes. Consult your doctor if you are noticing this particular symptom or if you have one of these conditions.

If you lose areas of taste on your tongue itself, this could indicate many different things.  You may have a throat, sinus, or salivary gland infection. You could also have a gum infection, such as gingivitis.  Similarly, individuals with nerve disorders of any kind may experience loss of taste in their mouth due to impaired nerve transmissions.

It’s difficult to prevent a nerve disorder, and sometimes a throat or sinus infection. However, it is possible to take steps to prevent gum or salivary gland infections.  To prevent gum infections, make sure you are targeting the gums when you brush your teeth.. You should hold your brush at a forty-five-degree angle when brushing, so as to remove particles from the gap between gum and tooth.  You should definitely avoid smoking or consumption of other tobacco products. You may also wish to consult your dentist about choosing a toothpaste and mouthwash for preventing gingivitis.  Salt water rinses are a good option for alleviating and preventing salivary gland infections. Avoid smoking at all costs!

4. Other Tongue Problems

It’s also possible to experience a burning sensation in your tongue itself. Frequently, this is something that women undergoing menopause encounter.  However, it could also signal the onset of other diseases or infections.  If you have a swollen tongue, this could indicate trauma of some kind (such as accidental biting). It could also point to more serious conditions such as cancer and thyroid issues.  If you experience a burning or swollen tongue, consult your physician right away.

You and Your Tongue Health

When caring for your teeth and mouth, it is important not to neglect your tongue. Your ability to  maintain a healthy tongue can go a long way towards preventing problems with our oral health down the road.

Learn how to recognize these common problems and know what to do to actively prevent them. In general, practicing good oral hygiene can help you steer clear of a discolored, painful, or swollen tongue.

If you are struggling with your oral hygiene, Advanced Family Smiles can help!  Contact our office and let us assist you with maintaining good oral health.