The tongue is a muscular organ that we use for smell, taste, swallowing and speech. It also helps to maintain the structure of the mouth and face.
If you’re experiencing pain, swelling or changes in the appearance of your tongue, you should seek an evaluation by an oral health professional. Although most tongue problems are not serious, there are a few which can be.
What are the Signs of Tongue Problems?
Swelling, sores, colour or textural changes can all be signs of tongue problems. You might find that food tastes different, or that you’ve lost the sense of taste altogether.
You may also find that speech is difficult or that you can’t move your tongue as easily as you could before. Some people also experience pain or burning on their tongue or the roof of their mouth.
What are the Most Common Tongue Problems?
If you have white patches on your tongue or mouth, you may have a condition known as oral thrush which is caused by the Candida fungus. Thrush can be painful and may change the taste of food.
It can be triggered in several ways, including antibiotic or steroid treatment, dry mouth, poor oral hygiene, or the use of dentures. Medical conditions such as diabetes and a weak immune system can also allow oral thrush to develop.
Oral ulcers are painful sores that can develop anywhere in the mouth. They can be caused by stress, accidentally biting your tongue, allergies or vitamin deficiencies. They usually go away on their own after a few days, but they can also be an indicator of more serious medical conditions.
Tongue swelling can be the result of several issues, but luckily usually minor ones. However, swelling could indicate an underlying disease, such as strep throat, anaemia, thyroid problems or even tongue cancer. A common cause of swelling is called geographic or mapped tongue.
With this condition, the tongue develops ridges and grooves that look like a topographic map. If you have this, your tongue may feel sore, or you may experience sensitivity to certain foods and drinks.
What is a Black Hairy Tongue
A more unusual, but harmless, condition is known as black hairy tongue. The tongue looks as if black hairs are growing from it. However, the black appearance is from dead skin cells that attach to taste buds.
Improving oral hygiene, drinking more water and stopping smoking usually takes care of this problem!
Tongue cancer and other oral cancers are serious. You may have spots on your tongue, pain, swelling or difficulty moving the tongue. Early diagnosis and treatment is important.
How to Treat Tongue Disease
Seeing your dentist regularly is the best way to avoid serious oral health problems. Regular visits ensures that your mouth, teeth, tongue and other tissues are healthy. If you experience pain, swelling or sores in your mouth between visits, monitor the situation.
If the problem doesn’t resolve on its own after a few days, it’s best to let your dentist evaluate the condition. If you have problems breathing, severe swelling or trouble swallowing, do seek medical help immediately.
Our professional team at Underwood Dental Care are highly trained in evaluating, diagnosing and treating diseases of the mouth, teeth and tongue.
Our treatment stations are comfortable, secure environments to put our patients at ease, and are equipped with intra-oral cameras that let you see what the dentist sees. The images shown also help the dentist explain the condition of your mouth, how and why treatment may be necessary.
For more information, please feel free to book an appointment with our friendly team today.