While it is not something that people often consider, tongue health is important to overall oral hygiene. This can mean taking care to properly clean your tongue and carry out best practices when it comes to keeping it healthy. But it is also important to pay attention to what your tongue can tell you about your oral health. The tongue is a muscular organ, with thousands of complex receptors, skin, and a complex environment that makes it reflect the overall health of the entire body. Your tongue should be a natural pink color, and that same color throughout. In this article, we are going to discuss some examples of things to look out for when it comes to your tongue’s health.

White Film

One of the most common problems is a white film forming on the tongue, sometimes moving from the back to the front. If it doesn’t come off after you brush, then it could be more than just food debris. Thrush, a fungus in the yeast family, feeds on unclean environments. The white area is your white blood cells attacking the infection, though the fungus itself can be visible at times as well. By improving your diet, drinking more water, and cleaning your tongue you should be able to get rid of most cases.

 Antibiotics and other medicines can also cause a white film on the tongue due to the effects they have on your microbiome. If you have been taking care of your tongue and plenty of time has passed since you were on antibiotics, you need to go see your dentist if you are still noticing a film. This could be a sign of a greater underlying health condition.

White Spots

Patchy white spots known as Leukoplakia can be caused by several different foods and medicines, but they are most commonly caused by tobacco use and smoking. Leukoplakia is something that can be treated, but you will need to treat your body right. If you notice white spots such as these, you should seek treatment from a Dentist as to ensure that you that you do not have any other underlying diseases.

Red Bumps 

Something that some people might notice is red bumps on the back of their tongue. These are normal, and not something to be concerned with. If you are sick and catch a fever, however, you may get irregular red bumpy patches. These should go away when the fever dies down as a result of your body’s immune reaction.

Bright Red Color

One ailment known as Kawalaski disease tends to present in the tongue first. This disease causes inflammation in the blood vessels of the tongue. As a result of the inflammation, the tongue will turn a bright shade of strawberry red. In children, the shade of red will be more vibrant. The tongue may also appear unusually smooth. One uncommon cause of this disease is Scarlet Fever, but a more modern cause is usually a Vitamin B deficiency. This means the body likely needs more Vitamin B3 and Vitamin B12. By either eating more foods rich in these vitamins or taking a supplement, the symptoms should resolve.


Another thing that a person should look out for when it comes to the health of their tongue is Canker sores, as well as Herpes 1 sores. Canker sores are an immune reaction to small cuts and abrasions on or around the mouth getting infected, causing a small bump to form on your mouth. Usually, Canker Sores and Herpes Type 1 present on the lips and around the mouth. But what most people don’t know is that these sores can also occur inside the mouth. The first day it might look like a bump and be slightly painful, but it will eventually form a white center as the immune system fights the infection. 


For most people, food allergies are discovered through obvious adverse reactions to certain types of foods. One of the lesser-known reactions to food can be a painful or swollen tongue. This is known as burning mouth syndrome. It is caused by the nerve endings on your tongue becoming exposed. Diabetes, reflux, or other infections are a few conditions that can cause burning mouth syndrome. Some of the suggested ways to alleviate the pain are to limit the intake of acidic food, drinks, and fruits. Limiting toothpaste and mouthwashes that are overly acidic can help too. Sometimes chewing gum and eating very sugary food can mimic the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome by causing abrasions in the mouth. It can be best to limit the intake of these as well.

 If you have a swollen tongue, it can be a sign of other underlying illnesses that are the result of your hormones not being in balance, such as thyroid issues. Any bump, sore, growth, or other problem that does not go away on its own after an extended period is worth a dentist’s visit, as these problems can be a sign of more serious underlying conditions. 

Textured or Hairy Sensation

Hairy tongue is a process in which the proteins that make up your tongue expand. The bumps that you see on a normal healthy tongue are made up of proteins that turn into elongated strands as they are broken down, making them more susceptible to catching debris. Because of the heightened susceptibility to catching debris, food can build up and change the overall color of your tongue. Oral rinses, brushing and tongue scraping should clear up the discoloration in most cases.

Persisting symptoms and discoloration can be more common in people with compromised immune systems from viruses like HIV. The hairs can range from the color of your tongue to a black color. If the hair turns a black color, that is normally from a reaction to certain types of medication. For most people, this problem will go away on its own as soon as they remove antacids and other medicine that contains bismuth. 


In conclusion, the tongue is a muscular organ, and since it is visible unlike internal organs, symptoms of problematic illnesses present more noticeably and therefore can be treated promptly. If you notice any of the symptoms listed in this article, it’s a good idea to see a Dentist or a Doctor sooner rather than later. In many cases, catching and treating a disease or illness early on is better than waiting till symptoms have progressed.