If you observe your tongue closely, you'll see that it carries signs that can warn you of health conditions brewing in your body. Familiarize yourself with these seven tongue health indicators, and do a simple mirror check every morning for advanced notice of possible diseases or other conditions.

Wrinkles and Aging

Surprising as it may be, your tongue shows signs of aging. If you see wrinkles on your tongue, it is most likely a consequence of the natural aging process. Look for fissures and cracks on its surface that may be susceptible to fungal infections. Signs that indicate clefts in your tongue are infected include pain, a burning sensation, or foul odor. This is most common in people with poor oral hygiene or who have poorly fitting dental appliances.


Redness and Vitamin Deficiencies

A strawberry red tongue with a very smooth texture may be symptomatic of vitamin or mineral deficiencies, particularly vitamin B12 or folate. These nutrients help papillae on the tongue to mature, and their absence causes an unusual appearance and some discomfort or pain when consuming spicy or hot food. Vegans especially tend to suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency.


White Patches and Yeast Infections

A white, patchy tongue that is abnormally lumpy could be the result of a candida yeast infection called thrush. Thrush can develop after taking a course of strong antibiotics, which kills the naturally occurring bacteria in the oral cavity, allowing the yeast to multiply, and people with weakened immune systems are more susceptible. Thrush may cause mild pain or taste disturbances. It is important to get checked for thrush if you see white patches because, unlike other yeast infections, it cannot be cured with over-the-counter medications.


Painful Sores and Stress

Sores on the tongue are often canker sores and typically occur in people who are prone to stress. These sores are quite painful but disappear by themselves in four to five days. Experts are not sure of the exact cause but suspect viruses. Painful sores in the mouth should always be checked by a doctor to rule out cold sores, which are very contagious and require medical attention.


Red Lesions and Cancer

Red lesions are different from canker sores. Canker sores subside in a maximum of two weeks. Cancer-associated lesions are red bumpy patches on the tongue that don't go away on their own. In the early stages, such lesions may not hurt, but if they persist for more than two weeks, you should have them checked by a doctor. Most oral cancers tend to affect smokers, although the HPV virus can also be a cause.


Fuzzy Tongue and Bad Oral Hygiene

The papillae on our tongue tends to get worn over time by chewing and eating. In the absence of proper oral hygiene, papillae can become overgrown, making them breeding sites for bacteria and causing foul breath and taste abnormalities. If you smoke, you are at a higher risk of developing a fuzzy tongue. Brushing your teeth and cleaning your tongue regularly can improve the condition in a few weeks.


Burning Sensation and Postmenopausal Symptoms

Some people, especially women, complain that their tongues randomly sting or burn as if being scalded. The tongue looks healthy, but hormonal changes can cause the discomfort. In some people, it occurs sporadically, while others suffer just one bout of pain. Although rare, another cause of a burning tongue is an allergy to an ingredient in toothpaste. If you have just developed this problem, try another toothpaste. If the burning sensation is especially bad, make sure to consult your doctor.


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