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NYC Smile Design - BLOG - Speaking in Tongues and the Health of Your Mouth

July 26th, 2010 | 1 min read

By NYC Smile Design

In Chinese medicine the tongue is a reflection of diseases of the body.  There are color and texture changes in the tongue that are important to know because they may indicate a problem

Red or strawberry tongue

  • vitamin deficiency of folic acid and B12
  • geographic tongue-develop reddish spots with a white border. This condition is benign and no      treatment is required. Can be caused by stress or hormonal changes or allergies
  • Scarlet fever– This is strep infection and antibiotic treatment may be necessary
  • Kawasaki syndrome– seen in children less than 5 years of age. This is a syndrome that affects the blood vessels. In the very early phase of illness children have high fever and redness and swelling in hands and feet

Black Hairy Tongue

Although this condition looks ominous, it is typically nothing serious. The papillae or taste buds in the tongue are small bumps and they can grow very long and can harbor bacteria. As the bacteria grow they may look dark or black and the papillae will look like fur hence the name.  This is not very common and it can appear in people that don’t have good hygiene to begin with.
Texture changes in the tongue

  • Canker sores of the tongue–  cause is unknown but may be related to stress and poor diet
  • Grinding and clenching of the teeth– can cause the sides of the tongue to get bumpy due to pressure against the sides of the teeth and also get irritated
  • Glossitis– where the finger like projections (papillae)of the tongue are lost and appear very smooth and the tongue gets swollen
  • Fissured tongue-characterized by deep grooves (fissures) in the top part of the tongue. It is usually painless and cause unknown. May indicate a yeast infection,or other medical conditions such as anemia, vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

Tongue Pain and sores

  • Burning tongue syndrome-bacterial or viral infections. Smoking cigarettes, alcohol consumption. Allergic reactions (toothpaste, mouthwash,dyes)
  • Yeast infection
  • Dry mouth-from taking numerous medications or from Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Oral cancer-will cause tongue pain as well

It’s important to keep your tongue healthy.  So always observe your tongue and look for changes.  As much as flossing and brushing your teeth is important the tongue should not be overlooked.  Tongue can be cleaned easily with tongue scraper and it won’t take more than 10 seconds to do.  Just slide the scraper over your tongue 3 or 4 times.