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Time to Talk About Your Tongue

Alright my friends, it’s time to have a serious talk about your health.  Here’s what I want you to do.  Grab a mirror or the selfie program on your cell phone.  Go on grab it, I’ll wait here.  Find it?  Ok good.  Now, stick your tongue out.  Don’t be shy!  Take a close look at it.  Is it all pink?  Or does it look coated with a white or yellow color? 

The tongue really is a curious muscle, unlike any other in the body.  Taste buds of various sizes and shapes cover the surface of the tongue, giving it a rough texture.  In fact on a microscopic level, the tongue has an appearance similar to the bristles of a brush.  This texture allows for catching food and bacterial debris which can lead to bad breath. 

Ideally, the tongue should be clean and free of such odor causing debris, and should be pink in color.  You may notice that after drinking coffee or wine the color of the tongue changes to a brown or purple shade.  After brushing and flossing, a few passes with the tongue scraper will remove left over food or coffee and keep your breath smelling fresh! 

In addition to having fresh breath, keeping a clean tongue can also keep you healthier.  Often times the type of bacteria that is responsible for sore throat, tonsillitis, and other upper respiratory illnesses can be found living on the tongue.  For some people, incorporating tongue scraping into their daily routine has helped them experience less of these illnesses.

Did you know the tongue is the most common place to have oral cancer?  According to the American Cancer Association about 39,500 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer in 2015.  Early detection is very important in the treatment of oral cancers.  It is a good idea to frequently take a look at your tongue and monitor it for any changes.  If changes arise, contact your dentist immediately for an examination. 

At Cardinal Dental, Dr. Cynthia Ulrich will do an exam for oral and neck cancer at your annual checkups.  Consider it your six month massage!  She will check your TMJ and neck for lumps and bumps.   She will then ask you to stick your tongue out and say “Ahh!” so that she can examine the back of the throat and tonsils.  The tongue is examined next, and she will ask you to stick your tongue out and then point it to the left and to the right so she can see the sides of the tongue.  This is a place that oral cancer tends to hide, so it is important to check there.  She will then ask you to point your tongue towards the back of your mouth so she can examine the area underneath the tongue.  An examination of the roof of the mouth, cheeks, and lips will also be done.  Early diagnosis is the key, and at Cardinal Dental we make every effort to identify problems before they arise. 

Overall health starts with a healthy mouth.  By keeping your tongue clean, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of having better breath and a healthier appearance.  The addition of a tongue scraper to your oral hygiene routine will help keep you healthy!