Why Your Dentist Examines Your Tongue During a Teeth Cleaning

Why Your Dentist Examines Your Tongue During a Teeth Cleaning

Your tongue helps you speak and allows you to taste your food. But that’s not all it’s good for. During your teeth cleaning, your hygienist and dentist pay attention to the condition of your tongue. It can give them clues about your oral health and, to a degree, your overall health.

Let’s Talk About Your Tongue

Here are some ways that the appearance of your tongue can point to health issues you need to address:

Your tongue is coated in white.

Some antibiotics, and certain other conditions, can cause the yeast that is naturally present in your mouth to grow beyond normal proportions. This is called thrush, and it can be painful and can also decrease your ability to taste. It is common in kids, people with uncontrolled diabetes or autoimmune diseases, chemotherapy patients, and seniors. If you think you have thrush, talk with your dentist or physician, as it can’t be treated with over-the-counter medications.

Your tongue is bright red.

Vitamin B12 and iron are required for the normal development of the papillae on your tongue. If you are deficient in vitamin B12 or iron, your tongue may fail to develop the normal papillae and can become smooth, red, and shiny. You may experience pain when you drink hot beverages or eat spicy foods. Vitamin supplements, as directed by your doctor or dentist can help.

Your tongue has red sores or white patches that don’t heal.

If during your teeth cleaning and exam your dental team notices irritations that you say don’t seem to heal the way a canker sore would, they will encourage you to see your doctor. There can be many causes of sores — some more serious than others — so you want to be sure you know what you’re dealing with.

Your tongue has wrinkles.

The “cracks” that some people have on their tongue are normal. However, they can harbor bacteria that can lead to an infection if you don’t keep them clean. Be sure that when you brush your teeth, you brush your tongue as well.

Your Teeth Cleaning is an Important Part of Your Overall Healthcare

Your regular teeth cleaning at your dentist does more than protect your oral health. It can provide important information on your overall health as well. To make an appointment with Dr. Steinbach or Dr. Van Gorden, call 970-279-5647. Or request an appointment online now!

We’ve proudly provided comprehensive dental care to Basalt, Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, and surrounding Colorado areas for 25 years.