What Is Wrong with My Tongue?

Blonde woman wearing a black shirt covers her mouth due to a white film on her tongue

Have you ever noticed any unusual coloring of your tongue? Some changes to your tongue are only temporary but others are cause for concern. Here, we’ll explain how to distinguish between a healthy and an unhealthy tongue.

What Does a Healthy Tongue Look Like?

When your tongue is healthy, it should appear pink all over. It shouldn’t have any sore or tender spots. Occasionally, your tongue can become covered in a thin whitish or yellowish film, but this is just a mix of bacteria, food debris, and dead cells. Once you brush, floss, and rinse your mouth, that white film should be gone. While the bacteria aspect of this film may seem concerning, some bacteria is completely normal. You could have 20 billion bacteria in your mouth at any given time. The truth is that no one bacteria is responsible for an unhealthy mouth. In fact, a combination of bacteria contributes to a healthy mouth. But a consistent oral care routine is needed to keep the levels of your oral bacteria in check. That way, the environment of your mouth stays balanced and healthy.

What Does an Unhealthy Tongue Look Like?

If your tongue has any patches of deep red, white, or yellow, you might be affected by the bad kind of bacteria. This bacteria can lead to tooth decay, cavities, receding gums, gum disease, and sulfur byproducts in your mouth, a main cause of halitosis. Other indicators that something is wrong include tenderness, issues like a bright red, blue, purple, or black discoloration, or a cheesy white coating (called oral thrush) due to an overgrowth of fungus in your mouth. Sores and unusual patches on your tongue can also indicate the early stages of oral cancer. For example, leukoplakia is a thick, whitish patch that can develop when you are suffering from oral cancer.

How Can I Keep Bad Oral Bacteria at Bay?

It’s extremely important that you practice good oral health habits so that your tongue stays free of bad bacteria. Beyond flossing at least once a day and brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, you should also be in the habit of brushing your tongue every time you brush your teeth. Use a gentle hand to brush your tongue, starting from the back and moving to the front. There are also scrapers that can remove food particles and bacteria buildup. You may also want to incorporate an alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash to help banish bad bacteria.

Consult with Our Expert Team!

If you’re concerned about the health of your tongue, schedule an appointment so we can examine your tongue, teeth, and gums. Until then, brush your teeth twice a day, floss at least once a day, eat a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water to help prevent more bad bacteria from making their home on your tongue.

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