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Is Tongue Color a Sign of Health?

Your tongue helps you eat, drink and speak. It also helps provide a natural cleansing for the mouth and teeth. But did you also know, the tongue can also provide insight in a person’s overall wellness. Your tongue changes color when your body is sick, low on vitamins, or dehydrated. When looking into your mouth, your dentist can quickly check for any health issues just by checking the color of your tongue. What Do Tongue Colors Mean? Just by looking at your tongue, your dentist can give a fair assessment of your health. So what do the various tongue colors mean?
  • Red Tongue: A red tongue can mean that you are low on vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is necessary for red blood cell production, which helps carry oxygen throughout the body and plays a vital role in maintaining brain function. If vitamin B12 levels stay low for too long, there’s a possibility for neurological problems to develop. Talk with your dentist about ways to improve your diet and prevent vitamin deficiencies from damaging your body.
  • White Tongue: A white tongue can be a sign of bacterial or debris buildup on the surface of the tongue. This can be caused by mild dehydration, smoking, dry mouth, or illness. A white film on the tongue could be a sign of oral thrush, which is a type of yeast infection.
  • Black Tongue: A black tongue could be caused by a variety of factors. A “black hairy tongue” is a harmless overgrowth on the tongue, usually when the papillae (tongue hair) traps bacteria and other tongue debris. A black tongue could also be a sign of improper oral hygiene, excessive use of tobacco, antibiotics, mouthwashes, or even Pepto-Bismol type stomach medications. These usually resolve itself on its own, but it black tongue lasts for longer than 10 days than you should consult your dentist.
  • Yellow Tongue: A yellow tongue, similar to black tongue, can also be a sign that bacteria is trapped within the papillae. Simply improving oral hygiene can often return your tongue to its normal color.
If you think your tongue color is off, or you have additional symptoms like burning, swelling, change in taste or difficulty moving the tongue, do not hesitate to contact us at Sunrise Dental. Speak with a Dentist in Raleigh, Durham or Chapel-Hill Our dentists can talk more about tongue health during your next routine cleaning or checkup. Plan a visit to Sunrise Dental today by scheduling an appointment today! Call 919-878-0055 for our Raleigh office, 919-493-3355 for our Durham office, and 919-929-3996 for our Chapel Hill office or schedule online!