What Does Your Tongue Say About Your Health?

woman in sunglasses sticking out tongue-what your tongue says about your health

What Does Your Tongue Say About Your Health?

You use your tongue to taste food and talk to your friends every day, but did you know that your tongue can also speak to you about what’s going on inside your body? The tongue is linked to many vital organs, and paying attention to its color and texture can help you understand what your tongue has to say about your health.

Holistic dentistry connects your oral health to your overall well-being. Our team at Prescott Dentistry keeps your total wellness in mind and helps you keep your body healthy by providing you with quality oral health care. This includes teaching you how to read the signs your tongue is giving you—here’s how to interpret its clues.

Tongue Color

Tongue pain or abnormal coloring may mean that something is wrong with your mouth or body. A healthy tongue should be pink in color. Here’s what a white, black, or red tongue means for your health.


A bright red tongue can have a number of causes. One of these is vitamin deficiency. If you’re lacking folic acid or B-12, your tongue can take on a reddish appearance. 

If your tongue is strawberry-colored, it could indicate Kawasaki disease, a rare illness that appears most often in children. Kawasaki disease inflames blood vessels all over the body, causing your tongue to change color.

A red tongue can also be a symptom of scarlet fever. If the change in color is coupled with high body temperatures, see a doctor right away, as you may need antibiotics.

Geographic tongue causes red splotches to appear on the tongue. The patches usually have a white border and may change locations over time. This condition is typically harmless and should be nothing to worry about.


Thrush, a fungal infection, occurs when medications or illness disrupt the bacterial balance in your mouth. This fungus appears as creamy white spots on the tongue.

Lacy white patches may indicate lichen planus. This happens when your immune system attacks the tissues in your mouth.

If you have hard, flat white patches that will not scrape away, this could be leukoplakia, which has been linked to oral cancer. White patches in your mouth are always a reason to schedule a dental appointment.


Bismuth is a chemical element found in many antacids. When it mixes with your saliva, it may cause your tongue to temporarily turn black. This is a harmless side effect and will disappear when you stop taking the medication.

Tongue Texture

The texture of your tongue also says a lot about your oral health and the condition of your body. There are small nodules all over your tongue called papillae that contain your taste buds, but any additional textures may be cause for concern.

Smooth Tongue

A healthy tongue should have some small bumps. If your tongue is smooth, it could mean that you are lacking iron, folic acid, or vitamin B. Conditions like celiac disease can also cause you to have a smooth tongue, as can some medications. 

Bumpy Tongue

Canker sores are small, reddish bumps that come and go on their own. They are not usually a sign of a larger issue, but they can be painful.

Viruses can cause lots of little bumps on the tip and sides of your tongue, and a single, painful bump on the tip of your tongue could be transient lingual papillitis.

A painful lump on or underneath the tongue that does not go away could be a sign of oral cancer. Routine dental check-ups are the best way to catch cancer signs early and get treatment as soon as possible.

Fuzzy Tongue

Black, brown, or white “fur” on your tongue can make it appear hairy. What’s really happening is that some proteins turned the small bumps on your tongue into long strands when food and bacteria got caught in them. This should go away when you brush your tongue. Viruses like Epstein-Barr or HIV can make this condition more likely.

Holistic Dentistry in Prescott

You deserve a dental team that takes care of your health as a whole. Prescott Dentistry is proud to provide our community with compassionate and professional dental care that keeps your smile and your body healthy. For comprehensive oral healthcare, schedule an appointment online today or call us at 928-445-1660.


Photo by Alex Mihai C on Unsplash