Like teeth, your tongue gives you the ability to talk and taste. Tongues can also indicate problems by color and texture. Channel your inner 3rd grader—stick out your tongue to address the problem. Here’s what to look for:
1. Red Tongue
A swollen, red tongue can be a symptom of a B12 vitamin deficiency, often as a result of poor nutrition. B12 is important for healthy red blood cells, a deficiency can lead to anemia.
2. White Tongue
A white tongue can signal oral thrush, an overgrowth of fungus in the mouth. Commonly seen in babies and seniors, oral thrush typically affects weakened immune systems. It can also occur as a side effect of certain medications and with the use of antibiotics.
A white tongue may also mean you’re not cleaning like you should. The tongue is responsible for as much as 80% of odor-causing bacteria. Brush your teeth and tongue twice a day. If a toothbrush isn’t doing the job, try a tongue scraper. And don’t ditch the dentist—better breath can come after just one cleaning!
3. Bumpy Tongue
Accidental bites and burns can bring trauma to your tongue, leaving sores on the surface. Your tongue will heal in a few days, but avoid hot food and drink for a faster recovery.
Other bumps come in the form of canker sores. Their cause is unknown, but they can occur during stressful times or after eating acidic foods. The sores should clear up on their own, but if they’re still there after a few weeks, consult your doctor.
Your tongue can be more than just a gesture, it’s also a visual symptom that can help your doctor or dentist diagnose a larger issue.