The teeth and the gums are not the only structures in the mouth, the tongue is an incredibly important organ. There are lots of issues that can happen with the tongue.
What Is The Tongue Exactly?
The tongue is a muscle-based organ, it’s attached to the jaw, the hyoid bone, and the skull, it even extends back further than you can see! The outer covering of the tongue consists of a wet mucosa. The top of the tongue contains papillae, the small dots on the tongue that provide surface area, these papillae contain your taste buds.
Are Tongue Problems Serious?
The health problems you may experience from your tongue, often aren’t serious. However, you should still pay attention to your tongue because it can be a great indicator of underlying conditions. If you experience any significant tongue signs or symptoms, you should ask your dentist about them.
Tongue Problem Symptoms
There are many symptoms the tongue can show, these symptoms may mean you have an underlying condition, so it may be impossible for you to diagnose them properly on your own:
- Loss or change in taste – Changes in the ability to taste flavors or a complete loss of taste.
- Difficulty moving your tongue
- Change in your tongue color – The tongue may show patches of different colors.
- Pain or discomfort in the tongue
- Burning sensation on your tongue.
- A furry or hairy appearance
What Causes Tongue Problems?
Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS)
BMS goes by a couple of different names, glossodynia, glossopyrosis, and stomatopyrosis. It’s a condition that can literally make your mouth, tongue, or lips burning. BMS can cause discomfort to pain depending on how bad the sensation is.
Tongue burning can have many different causes, including, exposure to irritants, and post-menopausal people.
- Beckwith Wiedemann syndrome
- Hunter syndrome
- Down syndrome
- Pompe disease
- Maroteux – Lamy syndrome
- Idiopathic muscular hypertrophy
- Adenoid hyperplasia
- Venolymphatic malformations like hemangioma and lymphatic malformation
- Nutrient deficiency, such as a lack of sufficient pyridoxine, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B12, zinc, iron, and vitamin E
- protein deficiency
- Helicobacter pylori infection
- Insufficient saliva production
Black Tongue Or Hairy Tongue
Black tongue or hairy tongue is a condition that occurs when the papillae develop abnormally. This abnormal development can cause your tongue to look black and hairy, brown, green, or blue!
This condition can be caused by antibiotics or radiation to the head or neck.
Other Causes Of Tongue Pain
Some other causes of tongue pain include:
- Inflamed papillae
- A canker sore
- Tongue cancer
- Irritating dentures or braces
- Geographic tongue
Other Causes Of Change In Tongue Color
- Bright Pink – Deficiency in iron, folic acid, or B-12, possibly an allergic reaction to gluten.
- White – Often a result of tobacco and alcohol use, poor oral hygiene, or candida infection.
- White or red patches – Leukoplakia and erythroplakia can cause white or red patches, which may be an indication of cancer.
How Are Tongue Problems Diagnosed?
As we mentioned before, if you do see a problem occur with your tongue, you should make an appointment since the dentist will most likely diagnose another issue that is the underlying cause.
You should also see a dentist or doctor if you have:
- Sores that came back bigger than before.
- Recurring or frequent sores or pain.
- Problems that last 2 weeks or longer.
- Tongue pain that is not improved with medication.
- Tongue problems with fever
- Difficulty eating or drinking
You’ll want to closely observe these issues to answer these questions:
- How long have you had the symptoms?
- Has there been any change in taste?
- Can you describe the pain you have?
- Is it difficult to move your tongue?
- How often/if ever, do you use alcohol or tobacco?
Who Do I See About Tongue Problems?
Home Care For The Tongue
- Avoid using tobacco products.
- Avoid smoking marijuana
- Avoid hot beverages
- Regular salt water mouth rinse