Oral health can speak volumes about your overall health. Your dentist is the first line of protection against serious health issues that show up in your mouth, so stick out your tongue for Dr. Shane S. Porter at Premier Dentistry of Eagle, and prepare for a comprehensive oral health checkup. You never know what your tongue and mouth might be trying to tell you about your overall and oral health!
Of course, Dr. Porter is interested in your teeth and gums, but he also checks the general appearance and health of your oral tissues and tongue as part of a regular examination twice a year. In addition, Dr. Porter, performs an Oral Cancer Screening. This oral health examination is an important screening tool in caring for your overall health. The American Dental Association (ADA) has established guidelines in checking for signs of oral cancer and other issues concerning the oral health of your mouth.
White Patches on Your Tongue
If you see white patches, it’s likely leukoplakia, a condition that can happen if the tongue has been irritated. This is caused by an excess growth of cells, which is often associated with smokers. If the patches don’t go away in a week or two, it’s extremely important to make an appointment with Dr. Porter to rule out oral cancer. The patches, or precancerous lesions have about a 5 to 17 percent chance of developing into cancer. In many cases, leukoplakia can be reversed when you stop smoking and will prevent you from getting a tongue disease.
Persistent Red and White Patches
The flat cells that cover the surfaces of your mouth, tongue, and lips are called squamous cells. The majority of mouth cancers begin in these cells. A white or red patch on your lips, tongue, gums, tonsils, or the lining of your mouth may be a potential sign of squamous cell carcinoma. Oral cancer has a wide variety of symptoms in how it looks and feels. The skin may feel thicker or nodular, but it’s important to note if these abnormalities are persistent. Non cancerous lesions usually go away after 1-2 weeks. If the red and white patches last more than two weeks, they are often precancerous and you should make an appointment with Dr. Porter for a thorough oral examination. You will likely see these mouth abnormalities before you feel them, but don’t ignore them. In the early stages, mouth cancer may cause no pain, but can be stopped in its tracks with early intervention. Make sure you know the other silent signs of oral cancer.
White Coating on Your Tongue
Your tongue should be a light shade of pink, but if it appears to be coated with a white substance, this could be oral thrush, a yeast overgrowth that occurs by overproduction of candida. This is often linked to the use of antibiotics, which selectively kills off bacteria, but it can allow yeast, which is not killed by antibiotics, to take over. Thrush can also occur in those with weakened immune systems.
A white coating can also occur when you don’t brush your tongue on a daily basis. If the white coating will brush away, make it a daily habit when you brush your teeth to also brush your tongue and the white coating will be eliminated.
Extremely Red Tongue
An overly red tongue can be a symptom of Kawasaki disease, but is more commonly associated with a vitamin deficiency, such as iron or B-12. If you are experiencing a vitamin deficiency you’ll probably also notice other symptoms, such as fatigue, weakness, balance problems, and memory difficulties. In extreme cases, you may also experience pain when eating hot liquids or spicy food. Notable vitamin deficiencies can also be associated with an autoimmune disease in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, when the stomach doesn’t absorb vitamins.
Cracks in Your Tongue
Fissures and cracks in your tongue could simply mean you’re getting older, but they are typically harmless. Problems can arise if poor dental hygiene leads to a fungal infection within the crevices and you might experience moderate pain, a bad odor, and a burning sensation. If it becomes painful, Dr. Porter may prescribe an anti-inflammatory steroid paste, antihistamine rinse or a topical antifungal medication to improve oral health. Good oral hygiene, including brushing your tongue, will support good oral health, regardless of how old you or your tongue are.
Burning Sensation on Your Tongue
If your tongue stings and burns, hormonal changes related to menopause could be to blame. Though burning mouth syndrome can happen to anybody, post-menopausal women are seven times more likely to experience it than men, according to the American Academy of Oral Medicine. It’s uncertain why this occurs, and the condition goes away in some individuals while it persists in others. Drinking more water, using alcohol-free mouthwash and prescription toothpaste are among ways to deal with this uncomfortable malady.
Regular dental examinations twice a year with Dr. Porter are essential for good oral health. Couple his professional experience with your own self-awareness, by checking your mouth carefully once a month for any signs of abnormality. The purpose of this monthly self- examination is to observe any changes early. Finding precancerous lesions could save your life.
Premier Dentistry of Eagle is located at 467 South Rivershore Lane in Eagle, Idaho. Dr. Porter has proudly served his patients in Eagle and the surrounding communities of Star, Middleton, Meridian, Garden City, and Boise with comprehensive dental care since 1999. He has spent his career as a dentist examining the mouths of his patients and he knows what to look for, how your tongue should look and how the tissue in your mouth should feel for proper oral health.
Take charge of your oral health! Open wide so you can know what your tongue is trying to tell you and make an appointment with Dr. Porter by calling our office at (208) 546-0655 today!