What your tongue say about your health – including hair and spots

What your tongue say about your health – including hair and spots

Checking inside your mouth can tell you a lot about your health, and any changes can be indicative of some deadly diseases.

The tongue has between 2,000 and 4,000 taste buds, allowing you to experience textures and flavours.

It is also home to the majority of bacteria that lives in your mouth, and while some promote health, others can be harmful.

NHS GP, Dr Rachel Ward of Woodlands Medical Centre in Didcot, has revealed what the inside of your mouth really means for your health.

Mouth ulcers
Ulcers are small, painful patches or lumps inside your mouth that will generally heal by themselves within a few days.

She told the Sun: “If you have a non-healing ulcer or a new lump on the tongue, it could be a sign of oral cancer and you should arrange to see your doctor or dentist straight away.”

White patches inside your mouth that will not rub off
White patches that don’t rub off and appear inside your mouth and on your tongue are known as Leukoplakia.

“They are mostly benign but can be pre-cancerous and needs to be seen by your dentist or doctor,” Dr Rachel adds.

White spots that can be scraped off
White spots that can be brushed off with a toothbrush, could be a sign of oral thrush, the doctor explained.

She said: “It is often associated with soreness, an unpleasant taste and difficulty eating and drinking.

“Though oral thrush is common and normally easily treated, if it becomes a recurrent issue it may indicate another underlying health issue such as a problem with your immune system or a deficiency.”

Hairy tongue
The term ‘hairy tongue’ is used to describe an abnormal coating on the top surface of the tongue.

The GP explained that it is a harmless condition that occurs due to a lack of stimulation on the top of the tongue, causing bacteria or yeast growth.

The bacteria usually builds up on tiny rounded projections called papillae, which lie along the tongue.

Instead of shedding, the papillae starts to lengthen and in severe cases can grow up to 15 times their normal length, creating a ‘hairy’ appearance.

“It is most commonly caused by poor oral hygiene or smoking,” the doctor added.

Geographic tongue
A geographic tongue is a condition that causes a map-like pattern to appear on the tongue.

Dr Rachel said: “It is a common condition and not serious but can cause soreness if you eat certain food like citrus fruits or spicy foods.

“The best way of managing it is avoiding the irritating foods.”