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There are several ways to detect oral health conditions. However, the most obvious way is to trace the cause of the pain build-up in your mouth. The pain can either come from your gums or your teeth, depending on your condition. Instead of waiting for discomfort and pain to manifest, you can also detect oral complications through the state of your tongue.

What does your tongue say about your oral health?

Sometimes, you can prevent severe conditions by paying close attention to your tongue’s physical appearance. It can reflect your oral health through its color, pattern, and texture.

This article will discuss three oral conditions and how your tongue can help you detect them.

1. Plaque and food build-up

When your tongue starts appearing white, it’s either due to dehydration or overgrown papillae. If you’re drinking enough liquids a day, then the latter is probably its cause. It manifests as small bumps on your tongue’s surface. Food and drink can stain the tongue’s surface, giving it its pale appearance. If you don’t treat this condition immediately, the white coating can turn into darker colors of black and brown.

Your tongue’s dark discoloration, also known as a black hairy tongue, is due to an overgrowth of too many papillae. Its black color can come from food, drinks, and medications. It primarily occurs to people who smoke tobacco regularly. Thankfully, it can easily go away after exercising proper hygiene, with an extra emphasis on tongue and gum cleaning routines.

2. Candidiasis

Also known as thrush, candidiasis is a fungal infection that affects newborns, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems. However, it can also be present in anyone with a dry mouth. Your tongue’s appearance of white patches is a common indicator that you have Candida fungus in your mouth. Although it can present itself in your skin, gut, throat, and mouth, oral antifungal medication can cure it.

3. Lichen planus

Allergic reactions can manifest in your mouth first if it’s a food allergy. A white lacy pattern on your tongue and inner cheeks is an indicator of oral lichen planus. Lichen planus is a condition that signifies that your immune system is combating your mouth’s cells. It’s a typical reaction for mouth injuries, infections, or allergy-causing agents. Besides the white spots, the symptoms of lichen planus can also manifest in your tongue as sore red patches.

Although it’s not a severe condition, it can inflict cancerous changes if left untreated. The best remedy is to receive treatment of your severe lesions. Pain medication, mouthwash, ointments, and corticosteroids are viable solutions for managing it.


No one wants to visit a dentist with an already deteriorating condition of their teeth, mouth, or gums. Prevent oral health conditions from worsening. Your tongue’s physical state can be a viable identifier of oral problems before they become too serious.

Although some conditions will go away on their own, others may indicate a more severe illness such as infections, systemic disorders, or even oral cancer. If your tongue starts turning into a different color, consult with your dentist to receive a professional diagnosis of your oral health condition.

We provide affordable dentistry in Ann Arbor to treat a wide range of oral conditions. We perform cosmetic and restorative treatments together with dental implants and dentures for your needs. Get in touch with us today to learn more about the dental services we offer.

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Ann Arbor Dentist Office
Hours : Mon to Thur 9am - 6pm, Fri & Sat 9am - 3pm
Address : 4860 Washtenaw Ave D, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Waterford Dentist Office
Hours : Mon to Fri 9am - 6pm, Sat 9am - 3pm
Address : 5979 Highland Rd, Waterford Twp, MI 48327
West Bloomfield Dentist Office
Hours : Monday, Wednesday to Friday 9am - 6pm
Address : 6595 Orchard Lake Rd, West Bloomfield, MI 48322
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