Here’s some reasons why you should watch for changes that might need to be evaluated by a doctor or dentist.
For clues about problems in your mouth, stick out your tongue and look in the mirror. A healthy tongue should be pink and covered with small nodules (papillae).
A white tongue, or white spots on your tongue could be an indication of oral thrush: a yeast infection that develops inside the mouth. It appears as white patches that are often the consistency of cottage cheese. Oral thrush is most commonly seen in infants and the elderly, especially denture wearers, or in people with weakened immune systems. People with diabetes and those who are taking inhaled steroids for asthma or lung disease can also get it. Oral thrush is more likely to occur after you’ve taken antibiotics.
A bright red tongue can be a sign of vitamin deficiency. Folic acid and vitamin B-12 deficiencies may cause your tongue to take on a reddish appearance. This condition causes a map-like pattern of reddish spots to develop on the surface of your tongue. These patches can have a white border around them, and their location on your tongue may shift over time, but it’s usually harmless. If you have a high fever and a red tongue, you need to see your family doctor. It may be scarlet fever.
If your tongue is sore or bumpy it can be due to trauma: accidentally biting your tongue or scalding it on something straight out of the oven can result in a sore tongue until the damage heals. Smoking also irritates your tongue, which can cause soreness. Many people develop canker sores on the tongue at one time or another. The cause is unknown, but stress is believed to be a factor. Canker sores normally heal without treatment within a week or two.
A lump or sore on your tongue that doesn’t go away within two weeks could be an indication of oral cancer. Keep in mind that many oral cancers don’t hurt in the early stages, so don’t assume a lack of pain means nothing is wrong.
Everyone should check their tongue on a daily basis when they brush their teeth and tongue. Any discoloration, lumps, sores or pain should be monitored and evaluated by a medical professional if they don’t go away within two weeks.
If you have any questions or need to schedule a check-up for help on evaluating any of these symptoms, give us a call at (865) 983-4444, and we’ll be happy to assist you.