What Your Tongue Can Tell You About Your Health

The tongue is a great indicator of your body’s general health. You may not have noticed, but when you are ill, your tongue will most likely be slimy, or have a metallic or bitter taste. Some people experience cramps in their tongues when they suffer from the flu or sinus. 

The tongue is a versatile appendage. It can taste the different flavours in foods and drink and also helps to clean the mouth after meals.

Most people forget to clean their tongues, which can cause bad breath and mouth sores. We use the tongue to talk and to even facilitate swallowing. Make sure to add cleaning your tongue in your daily dental hygiene routine. Most toothbrushes have a rubber section on the reverse side of the bristle part. This rubber can scrape impurities and debris off from the tongue’s surface. The cleaner the tongue, thee more accurate reading it can give about the health of the rest of the body

Don’t worry! All tongues are different

Not all bumps and cuts on the tongue are necessarily an indicator of ill health, though your tongue is a muscle that is housed between sharp, hard teeth; so a few minor injuries are bound to happen over your lifespan. However, the tongue is known in the medical industry as a definite clue to uncovering some more serious health issues.

White patches in your Tongue

The first indicator that your mouth is in trouble is a white, pasty film on your tongue. According to Web MD, if you notice creamy white spots atop your taste buds, it could be thrush, a fungal infection. Thrush is common during illness. Sometimes, medications like antibiotics can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your mouth (as well as the genital area for women). Lichen planus, which means your immune system is attacking the tissues in your mouth, causes white, stringy patches. It looks almost like lace. If you see hard, flat, white areas that can’t be scraped away, it could be leucoplakia, which is linked to cancer. Let your dentist know about any white patches you see.  

Bright Red Tongue

Usually noticed in young children, a red or scarlet tongue can indicate that the blood vessels in the body are inflamed. This is an indicator of serious disease. It can be an early sign of Kawasaki disease, or Scarlet Fever. A vitamin B3 deficiency also produces a bright red, smoothed out tongue.

Vitamin B12 is essential for making the red blood cells that carry oxygen through your body and which plays a vital role in maintaining brain function, Dr Oz explains. Dr Oz says to always pay attention to any changes in the tongue. Colour, texture and taste are all important.  

While researchers aren’t sure why a B12 deficiency affects the tongue, you may develop neurological problems, including dementia, if your levels stay low for too long.


One of the tell-tale signs of diabetes is a patchy red and white tongue. It is a painful fungal infection fed by the excess sugar found in the bloodstream of diabetics.


If you are suffering from repeat canker sores, or fragile, sore and tight spots on the surface and sides of your tongue, you could be stressed out. These sores can also be found on the inner cheek and gums. 

The best way to combat these sores on the tongue is to eliminate the stressor. 

Burning Tongue

Possibly the most painful on the list, burning tongue syndrome and burning mouth syndrome (BMS) sufferers experience an incessant burned, scalded feeling.  It can indicate diabetes, acid reflux and all sorts of infections.  People who suffer from BMS have to avoid very acidic foods.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, consult your dentist immediately. Your dentist can do a thorough investigation into your mouth, and can refer you to a doctor if there’s evidence that proves that your oral issues are being caused by underlying illnesses. 

Affinity Dental has three tiers of dental insurance available at different price points. Each of these options covers individual specialist work to various degrees. 

Adults and children need to visit the dentist at least twice a year, and these dental maintenance appointments can start to add up. Dental insurance will cover you for any additional treatments such as crowns, root canals or fillings, whether they are done at the dentist, or specialist practice.  

Usually, a dentist will refer you to a specialist, if needed. 

If you need to find an Affinity Dental approved dentist in your area, click here. 

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