What Does a Discolored Tongue Mean?

September 1, 2021 Staff 0 Comments

It might be fun to stick your tongue out after drinking a brightly colored drink or sucking a popsicle to see the crazy colors your tongue turns, but what if you notice some natural discoloration or other changes such as bumps on your tongue? It could be something common that’s nothing to worry about, or it could be something you should get checked out by your dentist or doctor. Let’s look at some changes you might see to your tongue and what they could mean.

Red tongue

A healthy tongue is naturally a pinkish color, so signs of a red tongue could be subtle and easy to miss. Your tongue could become red due to being deficient in certain B vitamins, which can be resolved by changing your diet or taking supplements. It could also be a sign of an infection such as scarlet fever, especially if you also have a high temperature.

In children, a red tongue may be accompanied by bumps on the tongue where tastebuds have become enlarged due to inflamed blood vessels. Read more about this condition known as Kawasaki disease.

White tongue

Your tongue could develop white spots or patches on its surface. White patches are typically caused by oral thrush, a type of yeast infection. This may occur after taking antibiotics or other medications, or in people with a weakened immune system. Another cause is leukoplakia, which can be a precursor to cancer, so it’s important to see a dentist or doctor if you notice white patches on your tongue. A condition called oral lichen planus can also cause white lines and sores on your tongue.

Black tongue

Your tongue may become darker if you smoke or use other tobacco products, with black, brown, and yellow patches possibly appearing. And there’s a condition known as black hairy tongue, which can be more common among smokers. It is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria and dead skin cells, making the tongue look hairy as well as becoming darker. A black or brown tongue could also be caused by a build-up of bacteria if you have poor oral hygiene.

Blue or purple tongue

If not enough blood and/or oxygen are getting to your tongue, then it may start to turn a purple or blueish color. This can occur if someone is choking or if they have a condition affecting their heart or lungs. There are, however, less serious factors that could cause a blue or purple tongue.

If you have oral health symptoms that you’re worried about or if you simply need a check-up for your oral health and hygiene, then contact Advance Family Dentists to book an appointment in Advance, NC.