Tongue Oral Health

What Your Tongue Says About Your Overall Health

Believe it or not, you can tell a lot about your overall health by looking at your tongue. It can give signs of an infection, it can demonstrate your blood vessel health, and it can suggest there’s an issue with your nervous system, among other things. Below, we share some things you can tell about your mouth health and your overall health by looking at your tongue.

White Patches

White patches could suggest that you’re dealing with a current infection or the aftermath of an infection. There’s also the possibility of an immune system problem, so you’ll want to let your dentist know about any white patches you notice on your tongue.

Black Tongue

While you might assume that a black tongue could suggest tissue death, oftentimes it is a harmless reaction to an ingredient in some antacids. If you notice discoloration and you’re not taking medications or antacids, contact your doctor or dentist.

Smooth Red Tongue

A smooth, red and sometimes painful tongue can be the sign of a Vitamin B deficiency, or it could be caused by a more rare illness that affects the blood vessels in your body.

A Burning Sensation

If your tongue feels like it’s been burnt, but you haven’t been scalded by hot coffee, it could be a sign of a nerve issue. It can also be a complication of an infection or conditions like dry mouth or diabetes.


Small, painful bumps can sometimes be caused by simple tongue irritation, or they can suggest you’re dealing with a virus. If they don’t heal on their own within a couple days, have them examined by a dentist or doctor.

Enlarged Tongue

If it feels like your tongue is too big compared to the rest of your mouth, you probably have an underlying issue, like hypothyroidism, allergies or an infection.

Grooves or Cracks

Grooves in your tongue can be a sign of aging, but they have also been linked to psoriasis or an immune disorder. It’s usually not that serious, but it’s still worth bringing up at your next appointment.


If you have a growth or development on your tongue that doesn’t go away in a couple of days, have it looked at by a specialist, because there’s a chance that it could be cancerous.

These are just a few of the ways our tongue can speak to our overall health. If you have a question about what your tongue is saying about your health, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.