We rely on our tongues for many things. Taste buds lets us know if we’re enjoying the foods we’re eating. Temperature sensors warn us if something is too hot and tip us off if something is too cold. Muscular structure helps us speak with clarity. So, when something like tongue disease affects the tongue’s ability to perform how we expect it to, it’s crucial to understand what’s causing the problem in order to resolve it.
There are several obvious signs of tongue trouble: pain, swelling, inability to taste, and difficulty speaking. Other less clear signs that you may be experiencing tongue problems include bad breath, discoloration, and a change in texture.
A multitude of factors can lead to tongue problems. Identifying exactly what’s causing your tongue to show any symptoms of an issue is the first step in treating it.
- Infection: Usually bacterial or fungal, these clear up once antibiotics and antifungal medications are taken.
- Nutritional deficiency: Not consuming the vitamins and essential nutrients your body needs can lead to tongue issues, including anemia tongue. Improving your diet and resolving the deficiency often clears up the condition.
- Trauma: An injury or bite can cause your tongue to swell and bleed. Usually, these injuries go away on their own, but a proper oral care routine of brushing and flossing ensures an infection doesn’t take root.
- Hormonal changes: Any hormone fluctuations, especially during pregnancy, can affect the tongue. These are often harmless conditions and resolve on their own.
- Medical conditions: Cancer, autoimmune disorders, and nerve damage can all cause tongue disease. See your healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Common tongue diseases include:
- Black hairy tongue: Often a result of poor oral hygiene, black hairy tongue is a condition where dead cells build up on the tongue’s surface to create a dark, furry-like appearance.
- Glossitis: A condition that results in a swollen, inflamed, or discolored tongue, glossitis can be caused by a number of factors. Speak to your dentist for diagnosis and treatment options.
- Oral thrush: Characterized by small white bumps and patches on the surface of the tongue, oral thrush is a yeast infection that can be treated with medication prescribed by your doctor.
- Burning mouth syndrome: A condition which leaves your tongue with a burning sensation, relief often starts with accurate diagnosis by your dental professional.
- Oral cancer: Symptoms include pain, difficulty moving the tongue, and abnormal spotting. See your doctor or dental professional right away if you experience symptoms or have concerns.
Prevention with a good oral care regimen is often best when it comes to tongue disease, but there are several remedies you can try to resolve uncomfortable or embarrassing symptoms:
- Brush your teeth twice a day to remove plaque, bacteria, and food particles to help avoid bad breath and infection. For a more comprehensive clean, try switching to an electric toothbrush equipped with a tongue cleaning mode.
- Floss at least once a day to remove any bacteria and buildup that may lead to infection along your gum line and in between teeth.
- Use a tongue scraper to effectively remove dead cells, food buildup, and bacteria.
- Rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash to remove leftover food particles and avoid tongue irritation.
- Visit your dental professional twice a year for cleanings and checkups.
If you suspect a tongue problem, schedule an appointment with your dental professional for diagnosis and treatment. In the case of an infection, medication is needed to resolve the issue and bring your tongue back to a heathier state.
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