How often do you pause to take a look at your tongue? You know, that thin piece of muscle and mucosa that helps you eat, drink, swallow, and taste your food? You probably don’t very often, but rest assured, our friendly dentist at Philip Shindler, DDS takes a close look during our routine exams and cleanings. That’s because the tongue can be an indicator of your overall health.
Sure, many of the bumps and spots that pop up periodically on our tongues may be completely harmless and disappear over time. Others, however, could be indicators of illness, infection, stress, and the use of medications. White patches can sometimes be signs of an infection occurring when the balance of bacteria in the mouth is off. A burning sensation, metallic or bitter taste could signal a nerve problem, acid reflux, or dry mouth.
A tongue that’s nearly smooth and glossy red could be telling you that you’ve got a vitamin deficiency, celiac disease or an infection. Little irritations called canker sores commonly pop up underneath the tongue and often disappear quickly, but a bump or lump that doesn’t go away needs to be examined to rule out oral cancer. Of course, the tongue is full of sensitive nerve endings, which is why it hurts so much when we accidentally bite down on it while chewing.
The practice of cleaning the tongue with a scraper made for just that purpose is intended to remove bacteria and food particles from the surface and help prevent bad breath. Some of our patients simply do the same thing with their toothbrushes.
Our friendly dentist at Philip Shindler, DDS includes an oral cancer screening as part of our regular examination and cleaning. So even if you don’t spend a lot of time looking at your tongue, rest assured this valuable organ won’t be overlooked during your visit! Please don’t hesitate to contact our office for an appointment.
By Philip Shindler, DDS
December 31, 1969