While some changes to a person’s tongue may be harmless, others could be a sign of a potentially serious health problem, and it isn’t always easy to tell which are which. Here is an overview of some common tongue changes, what they could potentially mean, and whether you should make an emergency appointment with your Dallas dentist.
White Patches on Tongue
If you notice creamy white spots on your tongue, it could be caused by a fungal infection known as thrush, a common side effect of certain medications or illnesses. However, if the patches look lacy, it is potentially a symptom of lichen planus, a condition where the person’s immune system is attacking their mount. And, if the patches are hard, flat, and won’t scrape off, it may be leukoplakia, which is linked to cancer.
Whenever you notice white patches, it’s always wise to schedule an appointment with your Dallas dentist quickly. That way, they can assess the problem and identify the cause.
Seeing your tongue turn black is often a terrifying experience. However, if you’ve recently taken an antacid with bismuth, like Pepto-Bismol, then a simple, harmless reaction between your saliva and the bismuth is likely to blame.
If it’s related to antacids, the black color usually dissipates within a few days once you stop using the product.
Bright Red Tongue
More often seen in children, a tongue that turns bright, strawberry-red could be a sign of Kawasaki disease, a rare illness that causes blood vessel inflammation. A red tongue can also be a symptom of scarlet fever.
If a person’s tongue is red but also smooth and accompanied by pain, it could be an indication of a vitamin B3 deficiency. If you or your child have a red tongue, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your Dallas dentist to have it evaluated.
Smooth Patches on Tongue
Aside from a vitamin deficiency, a smooth tongue could also be related to an infection or celiac disease. Additionally, some medications are known to cause it.
If you have smooth patches interspersed with bumpy ones, that can be a sign of a condition called geographic tongue, which can have several causes. If you have smooth spots on your tongue, it’s wise to be evaluated by a dentist.
Lumps and Bumps on Tongue
A lump or a bump can mean anything from the presence of canker sores, a small, painful bump that comes and goes on its own, to viral infection to oral cancer. If you have one or more painful lumps or bumps that do not go away, contact your dentist to have them evaluated.
Ultimately, if you’ve noticed a change to your tongue, or simply haven’t had a routine dental exam in a while, then it’s smart to contact your Dallas dentist to schedule an appointment today. That way, your mouth can be properly evaluated, ensuring that any underlying cause is identified and addressed.