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What Your Tongue Says About Your Health

The humble tongue has many abilities. Not only does it allow us to talk and taste delicious flavours, it also gives us valuable indications as to what’s going on inside our bodies.

There are many signs written in our mouth that can indicate certain health problems, all we need to do is poke out our tongue and read it.

Before we delve into some warning signs, it’s important to establish what a healthy tongue looks like.

Generally, a healthy and happy tongue is a pinkish colour with a thin white coating. It should be moist with small bumps known as papillae, which coat the surface. Our taste buds are located in the papillae, enabling us to taste a wide range of flavours.

So, what does it mean when our tongue turns a different colour, shape or texture? Here are six common things your tongue is saying about your health.

You’re Dehydrated

If your tongue feels dry, rough and even swollen, you are likely dehydrated. A dehydrated tongue doesn’t just mean your mouth is dry, it means your whole body is screaming for some water. Water is essential to every bodily system and function. That’s why it’s so important to take note of the state of your tongue, and if it feels dehydrated, it means your body is too.

You’re Lacking In Vitamin B-2

A purple or blue shade to your tongue could mean you have a vitamin B-2 deficiency. Vitamin B-2, otherwise known as riboflavin, supports healthy red blood cell growth and other functions that give you energy. Some foods high in the vitamin include milk, cottage cheese, egg yolks, red meat, fish, almonds and soybeans. Alongside a purple or blue coloured tongue, a vitamin B-2 deficiency has been linked to fatigue, skin inflammation, mouth sores and mood changes.

You’re Allergic To Something

If your tongue is red, swollen, and bumpy, you could be suffering from allergies. Some severe cases of food or drug allergies can be life-threatening, so it’s important to find out what you’re allergic to so you’re well prepared for any possible hazards down the track. Even if you are experiencing a minor allergic reaction, a red and swollen tongue can be uncomfortable, so it’s best to get it checked out.

You’re Iron Deficient

If your tongue appears more pale than usual, you could be lacking in iron. When our body is experiencing an iron deficiency, our red blood cells aren’t receiving enough of the protein called haemoglobin. This can make our tongue appear pale, as well as make us feel tired and lethargic.

You’re Suffering From Poor Blood Circulation

A purple coloured tongue has been associated with blood circulation problems. This can cause all kinds of health issues, as your blood is not delivering enough oxygen to your body’s organs. You may notice other parts of your body turn a purple colour too. If you are experiencing this purple tinge to your tongue and other parts of your body, as well as chest pain, breathing difficulties and feeling faint, seek medical attention immediately.

You’ve Got Oral Thrush

Patches of heavy white coating on the tongue could mean you have developed a yeast fungus infection, known as oral thrush. This happens when a chemical imbalance occurs inside the mouth, wiping out the good bacteria and welcoming the yeast fungus to develop. Oral thrush can cause pain inside the mouth, damage your taste buds, cause bad breath and more.


Everyone’s tongue is unique, so it’s important to keep tabs on your own tongue and take note if you can see or feel any changes.

While some of these signs listed above may suggest minor health issues, it’s important to listen to other parts of your body. If you notice a change to your tongue, as well as difficulties breathing, skin inflammation, pain in the chest or other feelings of discomfort, seek medical attention ASAP.

If you have any questions about your tongue and its role on your overall health and wellbeing, book an appointment with us today. Here at Mulgrave Dental Group, we are passionate about improving not only your oral health, but your overall health and wellbeing.

Call us on (03) 9562 5156 to book an appointment today!

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