When you have a bad taste in your mouth, you brush your teeth, floss and perhaps use a mouthwash. But what about your tongue? Good oral hygiene includes the health of this often-neglected organ.
Many health issues can manifest on your tongue, such as halitosis (chronic bad breath) and gum disease, but the condition of tongue can also be an indicator of other problems such as fungal infections, cancer or speaking and eating difficulties.
If your tongue is sore, swollen or an unusual colour, sensation or pattern, it is important to have it checked as it can be a symptom of an underlying issue.
Examination of the tongue is part of our routine oral health checkup. Oral cancer is usually found on the lateral sides of the tongue, so we check for that.
The size of the tongue is also important. Sometimes large tongues (macroglossia) can point to a snoring issue and sleep apnea-related issues, as the swelling blocks the passage of air. Bite marks on the side of the tongue indicate chewing or teeth-grinding where the tongue gets caught in the way, so these can all be little signs that someone might be grinding or clenching, which can indicate problems such as stress.
A change in the colour of your tongue could point to certain vitamin deficiencies, irritation or poor lifestyle choices such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption. Tongue pain has many possible causes, from inflamed tastebuds, oral herpes or an infection, to anemia or even diabetes. Any changes or concerns should be expressed to your practitioner for further examination.
There are billions of bacteria living in your mouth at any time, which is important for tongue and oral health, however some of the bacteria on your tongue can cause bad breath. A ‘coated’ tongue indicates bad bacteria, food debris, toxins, fungus and dead cells, which won’t shift from teeth-brushing alone.
Therefore tongue scraping should be a part of your normal regimen when cleaning your teeth. Specific U-shaped scrapers can be found in some chemists or online, but if not readily available, you can try a commercial toothbrush with a ‘tongue cleaner’ on the back. It’s better than not using anything. The simple action of using the bristles to brush your tongue is useful, and it’s always important not to be too hard on your tongue. No matter what you use, do it gently as vigorous scraping can cause irritation and ulcers.
Prevention is always the best course of action, so incorporating tongue-cleaning into your hygiene habits will benefit your overall oral health.
Want to know more about the services on offer at The Dental Room? Call us on 1300 810 333.
Contact us on (03) 9857 3988 or book an appointment with us online.