The human tongue is responsible for articulating speech, tasting and breathing. If the tongue becomes affected by an oral problem, these essential tasks are compromised.
Discover some of the most common types and just how they can impact your overall oral health.
Types of tongue problems
Here are some of the most common tongue problems to look out for:
1. Mouth ulcers – Otherwise known as canker sores, mouth ulcers are a type of lesion that occur in the mouth and on the tongue. They are extremely common and occur when accidentally biting the tongue or eating something sharp. They can also be a sign of stress or anxiety.
2. White Tongue – White or coated tongue is a condition in which dead cells, bacteria or fungi colonise on the tongue that make it appear white in colour. This oral condition is usually harmless and only temporary. Possible causes may be a result of poor oral hygiene, dry mouth, smoking and alcohol use or leukoplakia – a common condition where thick white patches form in the mouth.
3. Glossitis – This is an oral condition where the tongue becomes inflamed and causes it to change in colour, surface appearance and size. Common causes include allergic reactions to oral medication, foods or medicine, hormonal factors and injury to the mouth, such as burns.
How can they affect your oral health?
If not treated quickly and effectively, tongue problems can cause an array of issues for your oral health. Such include:
1. Halitosis – Halitosis is the medical term for chronic bad breath. Unlike short bouts of foul smelling breath after eating something odorous, halitosis is persistent and doesn't go away after eating a mint or brushing your teeth. White/coated tongue is just one of the many causes of halitosis. This strong-smelling odour can be embarrassing for the affected individual.
Halitosis is persistent and doesn't go away after eating a mint or brushing your teeth.
2. Speaking difficulties – The muscles in the tongue are essential for speech and are responsible for pronouncing the consonants 'l', 't' and 'd', and for rolling the letter 'r'. If the tongue becomes swollen from conditions such as glossitis, forming sounds can become incredible taxing and the ability to produce clear sounds is dramatically reduced.
3. Eating challenges – The tastebuds on our tongue allow us to determine how different consumables are flavoured. If the tongue becomes affected by a buildup of bacteria or fungi (white tongue), the sensory cells within the taste buds can become compromised and offer a less enjoyable eating experience. Glossitis can also cause discomfort when chewing due to the lack of available space within the mouth. This can cause choking if the food is not adequately chewed before swallowing.
If you're concerned about a tongue problem or other oral conditions, contact the team at City Dentists to book a check up today.