What Does the Color of Your Tongue Reveal About Your Health?

Posted November 1, 2021 by in Health + Fitness

The appearance of a person’s tongue can reveal a lot of information about their health. When a person’s tongue changes colors, it can give their dentist some clues about their patient’s health. With this guide, individuals will learn what it means when their tongue begins to change color:

The Tongue’s Appearance Should Be Monitored

Just after brushing and before eating or drinking, it is important to inspect the tongue to determine if there are any signs of concern. Normally, the tongue should be a healthy pink color, and it should be covered in tiny tastebuds called papillae.

If the appearance of a person’s tongue changes or they start to develop pain, it is essential they see one of the Best Dentists Near Me for an examination. 

What Does the Color of a Person’s Tongue Reveal About Their Health?

When the color of a person’s tongue changes from the normal pink, it is time for them to investigate the cause. While some color changes are nothing to be overly worried about, others require a visit to the dentist or doctor. The following offers information on some of the color changes and the health issues they represent. 


A tongue that has turned white or has white spots is often caused by oral thrush, which is a yeast infection in the mouth. Infants and the elderly are most vulnerable to developing thrush, but those with compromised immune systems can also suffer from the condition. 

This condition will also occur more often after a person has taken a round of antibiotics. Thrush is treated with an oral antibiotic mouth rinse or pills. 

A white tongue can also signal Leukoplakia, which is a condition that causes the cells in the mouth to rapidly grow and multiple. This condition is often discovered in tobacco users and is a precursor to oral cancer. 

If there are white, lacy lines on the tongue, this is a condition called oral lichen planus. It is sometimes difficult to discover what has caused this condition, but it typically resolves on its own. 


Red tongues are often a sign of vitamin deficiency. A lack of Folic acid and vitamin B-12 can both cause the tongue to turn red. Some red tongue is caused by geographic tongue, which produces a map-like pattern of red spots all over the tongue. 

A red tongue can also be caused by scarlet fever or Kawasaki disease. If the red tongue is accompanied by a high fever, it is important to seek a doctor right away. 


Believe it or not, a person can develop a tongue that is black and hairy. This is a condition where bacteria grow on the papillae and look like hairs. A black and hairy tongue most often occurs in those who do not practice good oral hygiene. 

Make Sure to Watch Your Tongue

Twice a day, a person should brush their tongue as the last step in brushing their teeth. After brushing, take time to examine the tongue and note any changes that have occurred. If a person notices any color changes or pain, it is important they call the dentist for an appointment. 

As a part of a dental examination, the dentist will check the entire mouth for any signs of health issues, including the tongue. Having their tongue examined frequently and checking for problems at home will allow an individual to keep a check on their health. 

*Photo by Oleg Magni