What Does a Healthy Tongue Look Like- 3 Signs to Look For

Our tongue is a muscular organ of the mouth that has more important uses than people realize.

Most importantly, our tongue is needed for our speech, chewing our food and for taste. You can tell a lot about the health of your body by checking out your tongue.

What does a healthy tongue look like? There are three signs you need to look out for. Simply look in the mirror, stick out your tongue and check it out for yourself!What-Does-A-Healthy-Tongue-Look-Like-3-Signs-To-Look-For

The Color of Your Tongue Matters

The best time to check out your tongue is right away in the morning when you first wake up. This way, the results will not be altered by eating, drinking, brushing or talking.

Ideally, what a healthy tongue looks like is a light pink color with only a very light white coating present. A bright red tongue could be an indication of vitamin B12 deficiency, heart disorders or blood diseases. Other deficiencies that may be noted with bright red tongue include folic acid and iron.  Learn more about tongue diseases here from Wikipedia.

A blue tongue may indicate a condition where not enough oxygen supplies the tissues called cyanosis. This may indicate issues with blood vessels, kidney disease or respiratory insufficiency. If this condition is present, it is advised to seek medical attention immediately.

Having a yellow tongue may indicate jaundice. This color is uncommon but may be associated with problems of the liver.

A purple tongue can be a sign that the heart is not pumping blood properly and may be a sign of heart complications.

A common deviation of tongue color is white. A white tongue is most commonly caused by dehydration which may simply be corrected by drinking more water.

When the color of the tongue is gray it may indicate an intestinal or long term digestive issue.

What a Coating Means

The normal healthy covering of the tongue consists of tiny little pink bumps called papillae. These small bumps are on the tops and sides of the tongue. They are light pink and give your tongue its rough texture.

A healthy tongue can become coated making it hard to notice these normal pink bumps.What-Does-A-Healthy-Tongue-Look-Like-3-Signs-To-Look-For

A thick, white coating is usually an indication of an overgrowth of bacteria. It could be an indication of thrush which is a fungal infection. This is usually noticed after an illness or medications disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in your mouth. This condition is also known as oral candidiasis. Diabetes is sometimes linked to a white coating. It is theorized that with uncontrolled diabetes, there is a high level of sugar in the saliva that fuels the overgrowth of the undesirable bacteria.

A brownish/black coating appearing like “hair” on the tongue indicates a condition where proteins turn the normal small bumps into longer strands that appear hairlike. This condition is called black hairy tongue. It is usually brought on by smoking, drinking coffee or tea and poor dental hygiene. Removing the cause, like smoking, and improving hygiene by use of tongue brushing or tongue scraping may be all that is needed to improve this condition.What-Does-A-Healthy-Tongue-Look-Like-3-Signs-To-Look-For

Black coating on your tongue may be caused by using an antacid with an ingredient called bismuth. Certain people experience this when the antacid mixes with the saliva and goes away once you discontinue the medication.

What Does the Texture Mean?

When normal tiny pink bumps are not present, the tongue may appear smooth and glossy. For some people, this may also indicate vitamin deficiencies including those of all B vitamins, iron or folic acid.

Some medications, infections and celiac disease may be the cause of this shiny appearance of the tongue.What-Does-A-Healthy-Tongue-Look-Like-3-Signs-To-Look-For

A condition called geographic tongue is quite common and is noted by smooth patches mixed in with bumpy patches. These patches come and go which is why it is called “geographic” and most times are no cause for concern. Sometimes these patches can become sensitive when eating hot or spicy foods.

Cleaning Your Tongue is as Important as Brushing Your Teeth

The tongue is a very good indicator of overall health. While suspected systemic conditions should always be evaluated by your physician, it is also important to always practice good oral hygiene and keep the tongue clean.

This includes removing excess plaque bacteria and food debris from the surface of the tongue. This can simply be done by using a tongue cleaner which is a tool that can easily be added to your home oral hygiene care.

An effective tongue cleaner will gently and thoroughly remove the unwanted material that may be hiding within the bumps of the tongue. This material includes bacteria and debris and is a known source of bad breath. In fact bad breath will be significantly improved by adding this one routine to your home care.

The best tongue cleaner will have a combination of a soft, microfiber bristle and a harder “scraper” to remove the loosened debris from using the bristles.  Orabrush Tongue Cleaner from Orabrush has the perfect combination. 

A tongue cleaner is used to brush and scrape the top surface of the tongue simultaneously for a short period of time (less than 30 seconds is adequate). By pressing down on the cleaner and moving the cleaner from the back of the mouth toward the tip of the tongue you will remove undesirable bacteria and debris.

Up to 90% of bad breath symptoms can originate from an unclean tongue.

Check Out Your Tongue Today!

If you notice anything unusual, please take the necessary precaution and schedule a visit with your physician to be evaluated. By simply sticking out your tongue you can get a glimpse of your overall health.

Be aware of what a healthy tongue looks like and take note of the 3 signs of an unhealthy tongue. These include unusual color, coating or texture.

I invite you to invest in a quality tongue cleaner to add to your home care and experience improved oral hygiene yourself!

I would be happy to answer any questions you may have and please feel free to share your comments involving your own experiences.

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What Is Coconut Oil Pulling?- 5 Things You Need To Know

There are a growing trend in oral health care. This is a practice called coconut oil pulling and it is nothing new. This practice has actually been around for over 3000 years and it is a type of traditional Indian practice called Ayurvedic medicine.

Studies suggest oil pulling removes bacteria in the mouth, reduces cavities, improves bad breath and improves gum health and other oral health conditions.

The idea involves swishing a teaspoon to tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth up to 20 minutes and then spitting it out. There are 5 things you need to know about this practice.

1. Does Coconut Oil Pulling Work and How?

Certain types of harmful bacteria in the mouth contribute to conditions such as gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath. Oil pulling with coconut oil is very effective at reducing these conditions.

The majority of the bacteria that cause these are called Streptococcus Mutans. These microorganisms consist of a single cell and are covered by an outer membrane comprised of a lipid or fatty membrane which is the bacterial cell’s skin.

When the coconut oil (or fat) is swished in the mouth it naturally adheres to the fatty outer layer of the bacteria which attracts it out and away from the oral cavity.

2. The Proper Way to Do It

There are other oils that can be used for oil pulling such as sunflower or sesame oil. However, coconut oil is most recommended due to it content of lauric acid. Lauric acid has been found to have antimicrobial properties that also benefit the oral cavity.  Learn more about coconut oil here from Wikipedia.

Most people start with one teaspoon to one tablespoon of coconut oil at a time. You will want to place it in your mouth for up to 20 minutes. Gently swish, pull and suck the oil through your teeth.

Some people have a hard time holding this in their mouth for that long of a time so you may want to start with 10 to 15 minutes and work your way up to the recommended time. During this time the fat will liquify and pull the impurities from the mucous membranes of your oral cavity.

3. Tips for Afterwards

Make sure to spit the oil into the trash afterwards and not into the sink. If it goes into the sink, it may clog the pipes. Afterwards it is recommended to brush and floss as you normally would as part of your daily oral hygiene routine.

There are no restrictions on eating or drinking afterwards. If you wish, you can follow this practice by swishing with warm salt water. However, this is not necessary as any of the residue will be removed with your normal brushing routine.

4. What Will It Do?

There’s a lot of misconception about what coconut oil pulling can and cannot do. It is very effective at reducing gingivitis. An overgrowth of bacteria will cause red, tender and inflamed gums that bleed easily. This is called gingivitis. It is a reversible condition and can be treated when bacteria are sufficiently killed or removed.

It may help remineralize enamel. Our teeth are designed to remineralize themselves but only in the absence of cavity causing bacteria. Coconut oil pulling ensures that bad cavity causing bacteria are eliminated while beneficial bacteria are allowed to thrive.

Coconut oil has more than antibacterial properties. It also has anti-fungal properties. This means it kills the Candida yeast that live in the mouth. An overgrowth of Candida can cause an infection called oral thrush.

This condition is most often seen by people taking medications altering the natural microbiome such as steroids or antibiotics. People undergoing radiation, chemotherapy, using inhalers for asthma or those who wear dentures are at increased risk for Candida infections.

Unlike mouthwash, which can dry out the mouth with its alcohol content, oil pulling supports our saliva’s efforts. Our saliva has minerals in it so it helps to remineralize our teeth and at the same time it washes away bacteria that cause bad breath.

In this way, coconut oil pulling helps to reduce bad breath. It disorganizes the bacteria without killing the good bacteria and drying out the mouth as most mouthwashes do.

5. What Won’t It Do?

Coconut oil doesn’t whiten teeth. Some people swear by the whitening properties of oil pulling. However, no clinical studies have proven that the shade of the enamel has actually lightened. It might help improve the appearance of the teeth by removing stains and reducing plaque buildup but does not actually whiten teeth.

Ayurvedic medicine has many claims of more than 30 conditions that oil pulling will treat or cure. Many people swear by improvements they have seen in their own health conditions.

Some of these conditions range from arthritis, asthma, diabetes, migraines and even hangovers. To date there is no scientific evidence supporting the claims that conditions other than in the mouth will be treated or cured.

Oil pulling will not replace good oral hygiene habits of brushing and flossing. It should only be considered an adjunct to your normal oral hygiene routine of reducing plaque and cavity causing bacteria.

Try It For Yourself!

 I invite you to share your comments and stories below with your personal experiences. As a Dental Hygienist, I have seen many very positive outcomes from my patients but would like to hear more! I have included a link to an all natural, organic and cold pressed coconut oil on Amazon here if you need help choosing the best product to use.

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