It would be pretty difficult to speak without your tongue, yet there is an awful lot your tongue can tell you about your oral health without ever making a sound. If you spot any of the following, call our Bloomington, MN office today at 952-679-1365 to schedule an appointment with the preventive dentsitry pros at Weddell Dental.

White Coating

If you notice your tongue looks white, it could be the result of overgrown papillae, which are small bumps found on the surface of your tongue, and a buildup of plaque bacteria or food debris. A tongue with a noticeable white coating is more common in people with poor oral hygiene or dry mouth.

White Patches

If you notice white patches on your tongue as opposed to a white coating, it could be a sign of an overgrowth of yeast in your mouth. This condition is also known as “thrush” or “candidiasis” and shows up most often in newborns, pregnant women, or the elderly. It is also a common symptom for people who wear dentures, are on antibiotics, or those with weakened immune systems and specific health conditions like diabetes.

In most cases, this can be treated with anti-fungal medication.

Dark Discoloration

If you notice dark discoloration of your tongue, or a black or brown tint, it is likely the result of an overgrowth of papillae. This discoloration, a condition known as black hairy tongue, typically begins as a white coating and then progresses into a black or brown tint as the overgrowth becomes stained by food, drinks, and other factors.

The overgrowth of papillae is often the result of poor oral hygiene, dry mouth, tobacco use, or specific medications. In most cases, this discoloration goes away with proper hygiene, professional cleanings and healthier habits, such as giving up tobacco.

Smooth, Red and Patchy with A White Border

If you find that your tongue is smooth, red and patchy looking with a noticeable white border, don’t panic. This description is often the sign of a harmless and somewhat common condition known as “geographic tongue.”

In some cases, these patchy areas may move around or become sore and irritated by spicy foods.

White Lacy Pattern

A white lacy pattern on the tongue and/or your inner cheeks could be a sign of oral lichen planus. This means your immune system has targeted the cells in your mouth, treating them as a harmful intruder. Sore, red patches could also be a sign of this condition.


If your tongue has a yellowish tint, it could be a sign of acid reflux or an infection. It could also be an early indicator of the condition black hairy tongue.

Pale and Smooth

A pale, smooth tongue could be a sign of low iron levels or anemia.

“Strawberry” Patterned

If your tongue is swollen and bumpy, resembling a strawberry, it could be a sign of strep throat, food or drug allergies, or a blood vessel disease called Kawasaki disease.

Contact Your Bloomington Dentist Today

If you notice any of the above symptoms, don’t panic. While it’s good to be aware, self-diagnosis can often lead to unwarranted stress. You can find out more about your oral health situation by calling our Bloomington, MN office today at 952-679-1365 to schedule an appointment.