While most people associate the tongue with taste, this muscular organ is much more versatile. With more than 10,000 taste buds scattered across its surface, the tongue allows you to taste a myriad of flavors and textures. The unique shape and flexibility of the tongue also allow you to speak clearly and properly enunciate words. Finally, the tongue is used to move food in the mouth as you chew and swallow. As the tongue serves many critical functions, it’s important to keep it healthy with routine care and proper nutrition.
What Your Tongue Tells You About Your Health
Your tongue can tell you a lot about the current state of your health. For example, your tongue can be a great indicator of dehydration. When you are dehydrated, one of the first symptoms you may experience is a dry tongue and mouth. This happens as the body slows saliva production to conserve fluids.
The appearance of your tongue can also alert you to imbalances in your oral microbiome. While the mouth is filled with bacteria, some good and some bad, too many bad microbes can impact your health. If you stick out your tongue and see a white coating, it may be a sign that you need to devote more time to your oral hygiene. According to Harvard Health Publishing, white sores or thick white patches on the tongue can also indicate an overgrowth of yeast in the mouth.
Nutritional deficiencies can also become more apparent with help from your tongue, especially when your body lacks essential nutrients like iron, B12, and folic acid. When your vitamin and mineral levels drop too low, the tongue can develop a deep red appearance, indicating that you need to adjust your diet.
How to Properly Clean and Care for Your Tongue
Similar to how you clean your teeth and gums, your tongue also requires regular cleaning to maintain optimal health. There are several ways that you can keep your tongue clean, including the following methods:
- Tongue Scraping: Scraping is one of the most common ways to clean the tongue. This method involves using a metal or plastic tongue scraper to swipe the length of the tongue, from back to front. Tongue scraping helps remove bacteria and debris while improving your sense of taste.
- Tongue Brushing: If you don’t like the scraping method, consider brushing your tongue clean with your toothbrush. Use your toothbrush to gently brush the tongue in multiple directions.
- Oil Pulling: Oil pulling is an ancient oral hygiene practice that involves swishing oil in the mouth for up to 20 minutes each day to reduce odor-causing bacteria. This method is generally performed using cold-pressed oils, such as sesame, sunflower, or coconut. Oil pulling is an excellent option for individuals who are sensitive to full-strength or alcohol-based mouthwashes.
Maintain Tongue Health with Help from Vero Elite
Don’t underestimate the importance of tongue health. To learn more about how to care for your health or to schedule an oral health checkup, contact Vero Elite Dentistry.