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What Your Tongue Says About Your Health

The tongue is an important part of the mouth (both taste and proper speech are made possible because of it). The way in which the tongue appears can also say a lot about oral and overall health, simply based on things like shade, spots, etc.

The following are things to consider about the tongue, so you know when yours is healthy:

If it’s Strawberry Red

It could mean: You have a vitamin deficiency. A glossy, bright red tongue may be a sign your body is lacking iron or B12. In severe cases, this “balding” can cause pain when eating hot liquids or spicy food. Vegetarians are especially prone to low levels of B12, which is found in certain meats.

If you see Brown/Black Fuzz

It could mean: You don’t have the best oral hygiene. A tongue covered in dark hairs (actually called “black and hairy tongue”) may look nasty, but doctors agree that it’s not cause for major concern. Typically [black and hairy tongue] is brought on by smoking, drinking coffee and dark teas, or poor dental hygiene.

If it’s Cottage Cheese White

It could mean: You have a yeast infection. A lumpy, white-coated tongue could be thrush, an oral yeast infection caused by overproduction of candida. The condition is often linked to antibiotics. When you take an antibiotic, which selectively kills off bacteria, it can allow yeast, which is not killed by antibiotics, to take over. Typical in young children, thrush also affects people with autoimmune diseases, people with diabetes that isn’t well controlled, chemotherapy patients, and the elderly.” (Kelsey Kloss,

The best way to stay on top of your tongue health is to perform regular visual inspections and make sure to clean it thoroughly when brushing your teeth. It’s also important to let your dentist know of any changes to your overall health and if you are taking any new medications which may cause a change in tongue appearance.

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