Sure after a glass or red wine or some blueberries you might notice some residual colour lurking on the surface of your tongue but if you’re noticing a grey coating, irregular patchy areas or cracks on your tongue it may signify something bigger than an elevated blood alcohol level going on.
There are a number of different symptoms that can present on your mouth. Identifying what’s going on in your mouth is a great first step in solving the bigger health issue in your body.
- Geographic Tongue
- What It Looks Like: As the name suggests, the surface of the tongue bears resemblance to a roadmap. Bare red patches surrounded by pale areas shifting from day to day.
- Could Indicate: Hormonal imbalance (including thyroid hormones), liver disease or candida (intestinal yeast overgrowth). Candida is a common and frequently undiagnosed ailment that could be the underlying cause of poor intestinal health, an inadequate immune system or run rampant after a round of antibiotics.
- Pale Tongue
- What It Looks Like: Also referred to as “Burning Mouth Syndrome”, Glossopyrosis exhibits burning and pain in the tongue, gums, roof of the mouth, and cheeks.
- Could indicate: Similar to pale tongue, “Burning Mouth Syndrome may also be an indicator of candida or vitamin B12 deficiency. It could however also be a riboflavin or folic acid deficiency, a lack of probiotics or a hormonal imbalance.
- Scalloped Tongue
- What It Looks Like: Usually thick or swollen and has a scallop design around the outer edge.
- Could Indicate: Improper function of the thyroid or spleen. Schedule an appointment with your N.D.
- Cracked Tongue
- What It Looks Like: Cracks either irregular or running the length of your bodies strongest muscle.
- Could Indicate: A vertical crack up the middle that doesn’t extend to the tip of the tongue is likely to be related to digestive difficulties. Could also be related to the heart. Horizontal cracks could be a stage of Geographic Tongue, see above.
- Black Hairy Tongue
- What It Looks Like: Furry appearance with discolouration of the tongue and bad breath. May be white, yellow, green or dark in color depending on the invading organism.
- Could Indicate: A build up of bacteria or fungus on the tiny protrusions on the surface of the tongue. Instead of shedding, these papillae grow longer and bacteria builds on them lending a hairy appearance to the tongue. Potential causes include medications containing bismuth, such as Pepto-Bismol, poor dental hygiene, tobacco use and eating a soft diet that does not help to rub dead skin cells from your tongue. Brushing of the teeth and tongue morning and night should clear up Black Hairy Tongue but if it persists, book an appointment with your physician.
B vitamin deficiencies and digestive disorders such as Celiac disease, IBS & Crohns disease all affect the texture and colour of the tongue. Many people suffer from both digestive troubles as well as deficiencies in one or many of the B vitamins. There are no shortage of medications both over the counter and prescribed that rob your body of these crucial nutrients. In addition to stress, antibiotics, antacids, anti inflammatories and some blood pressure medications will increase the amount of these precious vitamins you need.
Doctors of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and other alternative practitioners may ask to see your tongue as it aids them in their diagnosis. So take care of it! Brush & tongue scrape twice a day, drink lots of water and treat your body with love.