Your Tongue Can Provide Clues to Your Health

The normal characteristics of the tongue include being moist, thicker in the center than it is at the edges (with the thickest part at its base), and covered with a light, white coating. If your tongue has different characteristics than those associated with a normal tongue, they can provide insight into your overall health. So, then the question is; what is your tongue trying to say?

Here’s What Your Tongue is Trying to Tell You

Take a look at your tongue in the mirror, if you have any of the characteristics listed below, you may want to make an appointment for a checkup with Dr. Nicholas Polito at Dental Health and Beauty in Libertyville, Illinois.

A Persistent Lump or Sore

Individuals over the age of 40 are at an increased risk for the development of oral cancer, especially those who smoke or chew tobacco.

Typically, the first sign of mouth cancer is a persistent lump or sore on the side of the tongue. Some of the other symptoms include numbness, bleeding, white or red patches.

If you have any of these symptoms, seek treatment right away. When diagnosed and treated early on, the prognosis of oral cancer is usually good.

White Patches

Although white patches may indicate mouth cancer, there are other reasons that these patches develop.

Other causes of white patches include:

  • Chronic alcohol consumption.
  • Poor dental hygiene.
  • Chewing or smoking tobacco.
  • Thrush.

If the white patches developed due to poor oral hygiene, you need to implement a daily routine that includes brushing twice a day (in two-minute intervals), with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Be sure to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride. This toothpaste should have the ADA’s Seal of Approval. In addition, you need to floss at least once a day.

If you frequently drink alcoholic beverages, reducing your consumption of these beverages may help.

Breaking the habit of chewing or smoking tobacco can help improve the appearance of the teeth themselves as well as prevent the development of white patches related to the use of these products. In addition, your likelihood of developing mouth cancer decreases.

Thrush is caused by the overdevelopment of a yeast-like fungus (i.e., Candida albicans). Although the overdevelopment of Candida albicans is more common in babies, people of any age can develop thrush.


Common reasons for tongue swelling include accidentally biting it, as a reaction to taking a drink of an extremely hot beverage, or attempting to consume a really hot piece of food.

If your tongue begins to swell after consuming something you have never eaten or following an insect sting, seek medical assistance right away. This inflammation may be due to an allergic reaction, which, if left untreated, could be fatal because as the tongue swells it can impair an individual’s ability to breathe.

If you have any of the symptoms listed above or need a checkup, contact Dental Health and Beauty at 847-367-1133 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nicholas Polito. You can also use the online appointment request form by clicking here. Dental Health and Beauty is located at 1109 West Park Avenue in Libertyville, Illinois.


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