How To Properly Care For Your Tongue
On the list of routines and techniques for maintaining a healthy mouth, most people don’t think about their tongue. But the tongue is one of the most important and frequently used muscles in the body. It’s responsible for our ability to taste, and helps us eat, speak, and even keep our teeth clean. That’s why it is essential for people to take proper care of their tongue on a daily basis.
At the same time, if there’s a problem with your tongue, it could very well be a sign that you have a more serious condition, or a warning that you need to take better care of your mouth.
At Grand Lake Dental, Dr. Karl Jobst and our entire staff make the health and comfort of our patients in the Grove, Oklahoma region our top priority. Whether it’s proper tongue care or any other aspect of oral health, we’ll work with you to create a solid daily routine and let you know if there’s a problem as early as possible, before it becomes a big deal.
So let’s take a look at what you need to know about your tongue.
Amazing Facts About The Tongue
When you really think about it, the tongue is pretty weird. But that shouldn’t underscore just how important it is to our health. According to the anatomical definition, the tongue is a muscular organ whose primary role is to initiate the digestion process through the manipulation of food, aiding in the mastication process of the teeth. It is also important for mixing in the saliva with the food and aiding in swallowing.
Equally as important, the tongue is responsible for our ability to taste food and other substances. It’s able to do this because of the system of lingual papillae that cover the surface of the tongue. Inside these bumps the taste buds are nestled. Just as critical to our ability to taste is maintaining a moist mouth through the secretion of saliva.
Also of note, the tongue is one of the most sensitive parts of the human body, thanks to the many blood vessels and nerves found within it. Of course, the tongue also makes human speech possible, as it helps to manipulate the sounds as they exit our mouth to form words and language. Last but not least, prior to the invention of toothbrushes, dental floss, and toothpaste, the tongue was the primary way we kept our teeth clean after eating.
How does your tongue help keep your mouth healthy?
While it’s obvious that your tongue is an important part of your body, that doesn’t explain why it is so essential to your oral health. Truthfully, most of the time we probably don’t even think about our tongue. But consider when your tongue is giving you pain, for instance after accidentally biting it. When your tongue really hurts, it becomes tough to eat and swallow food. So an injured tongue can quickly lead to malnutrition
Your tongue is a necessary part of preventing the build up of plaque or bacteria, which can lead to bad breath. The papillae on the tongue are also useful in helping to clean away bits of food, bacteria, dead skin cells, and other microscopic bits you aren’t even aware of.
But from a dental perspective, what stands out as most critical about the tongue is that it is often the first sign of underlying health problems, such as mouth disease or infection. That’s why you should immediately tell your dentist if you are experiencing tongue pain or other symptoms.
What symptoms might indicate a problem with your tongue?
There are a number of conditions and problems that your dentist will look for when checking your tongue, and if you notice any of these signs, it’s a good reason to schedule a check up as soon as possible. For example, a common tongue ailment involves the formation of white spots.
There are a number of different problems that can lead to white spots on the tongue. One of the most common is called thrush, which is a kind of fungal infection. Lichen planus is an immune disorder that causes your own body to attack the tongue tissues. In the most severe cases, hard, flat white spots that persist might be the result of leukoplakia, an early form of cancer.
Another reason for concern is if you have the sensation of hair growing on your tongue. Most often, this is simply the result of protein strands forming, and they can be cleaned off with a thorough cleaning. But if the issue persists, it could be a symptom of something much worse, including tobacco overconsumption, or a serious condition such as Epstein-Barr or HIV.
If your tongue is much redder than normal, it could be a number of problems, such as Kawasaki disease, scarlet fever, or a B3 deficiency. A burning tongue sensation might be the result of nerve damage, acid reflex, diabetes, food allergies, or a bacterial infection.
What regular care should you give your tongue?
Hopefully, after reading the above, you have realized how essential it is to take care of your tongue. This starts with a daily routine that includes brushing after meals, using mouthwash every day, and flossing on the regular. But in addition to all the normal habits you’re likely already aware of, you should also vigorously brush your tongue on all sides. If your tongue needs an extra thorough cleaning, it’s possible to employ a dedicated tongue scraper that helps remove bacteria and prevent infection.
And if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned previously, it’s time to see the dentist.
Your Grove, Oklahoma Tongue And Mouth Specialists
While it might be easily overlooked, a healthy tongue is essential for a person’s oral health. At Grand Lake Dental, Dr. Jobst and the entire staff understand that the best dental care is preventing problems before they occur. That’s why we work with our patients to form daily habits that will lead to a long life with a happy smile.
If you’re experiencing discomfort, discoloration, or pain associated with your tongue, don’t wait for it to get worse. Schedule an appointment today, and experience the best dental care in the Grove, Oklahoma area.