What The Color Of Your Tongue Says About Your Health

Contrary to popular belief, the color of our tongues can range across every color of the rainbow. While most of us are accustomed to seeing this muscle in a shade of light pink, the color can shift and change based on what we eat and the current state of our health. Should you notice a change in your tongue's size, shape, color, or moisture, this guide may be a helpful tool in determining what your body may be trying to tell you.

The tongue is not only crucial to our speech, but it's also important to the digestive process. The coarse bumps you see on the surface of your tongue play an important role in our recognition of taste and flavor (via Medical News Today). It's most common for these bumps, also called papillae, to be off-white in shade and color, but just like the tongue itself, these too can change.

The color of your tongue can indicate poor oral hygiene

A tongue bright red in color can indicate anything from a vitamin B deficiency to a potentially severe diagnosis such as scarlet fever or Kawasaki disease. Although relatively rare, Kawasaki disease is an illness characterized by inflammation of the arteries and blood vessels and can lead to heart disease in children (via Healthline).

A tongue that appears yellow in color can be an indication of bacteria growth, much like we might see in infected toenails, it's normally a result of poor oral hygiene. Another potential cause of a yellowing tongue can be jaundice. As defined by the Cleveland Clinic, "Jaundice is a condition in which the skin, sclera (whites of the eyes) and mucous membranes turn yellow." Though it can also occur in adults, jaundice is often seen in newborn babies who may have been born prematurely (via theĀ Mayo Clinic). In the rarest of cases, a yellow tongue could also be a symptom of diabetes. Much like yellow, a green or orange tongue can be an indication of poor oral health.

Should your tongue develop a bluish tint, this may be due to inadequate oxygen flow in the blood. This can be a result of kidney disease, a possible blood disorder, or even eczema. A purple tongue is also related to our blood health, and while it's another potential sign of Kawasaki disease, it more commonly indicates poor blood circulation, according to Medical News Today.

The color of your tongue may be a sign of possible infection

A white tongue is often a result of a yeast or fungal infection, one common example being what's referred to as "oral thrush," which can be identified by creamy splotches on the surface of the tongue (via Medical News Today). A white rash can also sometimes accompany a white tongue and other potential symptoms include pain or difficulty swallowing.

In the most extreme cases, a tongue can also appear black in color and is sometimes accompanied by hair. The causes of a hairy black tongue can range from smoking, to drinking dark beverages, to poor oral hygiene. In some cases, it can also be a side effect of certain medications and in more serious instances, it can be attributed to diabetes or possible HIV infection.

Though it is not uncommon for variations in tongue coloration to occur from time to time, should you notice any extreme or ongoing changes in your tongue's activity, it's always advised to consult with a medical professional. Our tongues deserve to be given as much care and attention as the rest of our body and maintaining our oral hygiene through regular brushing and flossing is a great way to keep our tongue happy and healthy.