The tongue is often, the most overlooked and under-appreciated part of the human body. They help us in speech, help us to taste food and make our lives so much better. For doctors, they are a window to our health, and especially for dentists, as the condition of our tongue speaks volumes about our oral health. We often observe color changes on our tongue and the most common colors seen on the tongue include black, brown, white, red and yellow. We will discuss the causes of such tongue colors and what message does the body wants to convey to us through such color changes.
A black tongue or a tongue with black patches in the central part of the tongue signifies yeast and other bacteria trapped in it. A black tongue is also a window to the form of diet taken and is usually a good indicator that the person having it is a smoker. In other cases, though, consumption of some food items can also turn the tongue black, as can consumption of some antibiotics. A black tongue can also mean dehydration, so its best to consume water immediately once you see a black tongue.
Brown tongue is also caused due to poor hygiene and poor dietary choices. The food debris gets accumulated at the back of the tongue, which causes a brown appearance. In some cases, a brown tongue may also mean that one is suffering from melanoma, which is an early stage of skin cancer. In this case, the patient needs to visit their doctor immediately. A brown tongue is also caused by consumption of some food items, but usually, brown tongue caused by food goes away after some time.
A white tongue can mean a variety of things, with the most common being dehydration, which can be easily solved by having proper amounts of fluid. White tongue can also be caused due to thrush, which is an oral yeast infection caused due to a weak immune system. A white tongue may also mean the person is suffering from leukoplakia, which refers to the excessive growth of cells in the mouth and the tongue and is generally a negative reaction of the mouth to irritants and unwanted substances.
A bright red tongue can also mean the existence of medical problems. Generally, a tongue goes bright red when the taste buds get swollen due to some underlying factors which majorly include vitamin and mineral deficiencies. A red tongue also means that the person is suffering from scarlet fever and should seek medical help as soon as possible. A red tongue can also signify the existence of Kawasaki disease.
A yellow tongue is also a sign of trapped bacteria on the surface of the tongue, with the difference between black and yellow tongue being the type of bacteria captured. A yellow tongue may also be caused due to dehydration as well as due to smoking.