The tongue is often the most overlooked and under-appreciated part of the human body. It helps us to speak and appreciate the rich flavors of food. Doctors and dentists see the tongue colors as a window to our health and speak volumes about our oral health.
We may often observe color changes on our tongue when eating colorful foods like blueberry. However, the default tongue color of a person indicates his medical and dental status. The most common tongue colors include black, brown, white, red, and yellow.
In this post, we will discuss each tongue color and what they say about your health.
Different tongue colors and their meaning
A black tongue or a tongue with black patches signifies yeast and trapped bacteria. The dead skin cells on the tongue create a conducive environment for bacteria to thrive that causes the black patches. A black tongue reflects your diet and is usually a good indicator that the person is a smoker.
In other cases, the consumption of food and antibiotics can also turn the tongue black. A black tongue can also mean you are dehydrated, so it’s best to consume water immediately once you see any discoloration. Alarming as it may seem, the black tongue is only temporary, and you address it by limiting tobacco use, rehydration, and a healthy diet.
Brown tongue is caused by poor hygiene and poor dietary choices. The food debris accumulates at the back of the tongue, causing a brown appearance. It can also be caused by eating certain kinds of food and drinks like chocolate or coffee. Usually, a brown-colored tongue due to food color can go back to its normal pink color in no time.
In some cases, a brown tongue is a symptom of melanoma, an early stage of skin cancer. If you have a brown tongue and did not eat anything that may trigger discoloration, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your doctor or dentist immediately.
A white tongue can indicate a variety of reasons. The most common cause of white tongue is dehydration, which can be easily solved by increasing your water intake. It can also indicate that you have oral thrush. Oral thrush is an oral yeast infection due to a weak immune system.
A white tongue may also mean that a person has leukoplakia. Leukoplakia is the excessive growth of cells in the mouth and tongue. It is a negative reaction of the mouth to irritants and unwanted substances.
A bright red tongue known as strawberry tongue may indicate the existence of medical problems. Generally, a tongue goes bright red when the taste buds get swollen due to some underlying factors such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
A red tongue also means that the person has scarlet fever caused by streptococcus infection that mostly affects children from ages 5 to 15. Another indication of the strawberry tongue is the Kawasaki disease, or the inflammation of veins, capillaries, and arteries. If you notice the unusual redness of your tongue, seek medical help as soon as possible.
A yellow tongue is also a sign of trapped bacteria on the surface of the tongue. The only difference between black and yellow tongue is the type of bacteria that thrives on the tongue. A yellow tongue may also indicate that a person is dehydrated or a smoker.
Got an unusual tongue color? Schedule an appointment now!
The normal color of our tongue is pink that varies in shades from light pink to dark pink. If you feel like you have one of the tongue colors above, Aten & Garofalo Dentistry provides comprehensive oral exams in Ballantyne to check your condition.
Our body has its way of sending signals of what is happening internally. If you notice unusual signs not only on your tongue but also on your gums, schedule an appointment immediately for early diagnosis and prevention.