Part of ensuring great oral health is a proper examination & addressing any problems with your tongue. Your dentist has the experience & expertise to diagnose many maladies on the tongue.
Regular preventative care includes seeing your dentist every six months for a cleaning. Typically, dentists will also perform a dental exam at this time. The great part is most insurance plans cover this exam & uninsured patients can usually find reduced rates or savings plans to help with costs. This low- to no-cost exam will not only shed light on problems with your oral health, it can be a great early detection method for general health issues as well. One of the ways this is done is by taking a close look at your tongue.
Many illnesses, from dehydration to oral cancer, can have signs present in the tongue. While your tongue—being a collection of sensitive organs—will not always be in perfect condition, different abnormalities can point to different causes.
Reading the Signs
Your tongue can suffer discoloration, a coating, bumps or growths & other issues all with different causes. A smooth tongue without papillae can be a symptom of celiac disease, for example. Your tongue may appear to get “hairy” if dead cells are not scrubbed off by rougher foods. But even if you can find an answer to your tongue’s irregularity online, it’s best to see a dentist or doctor to get an expert opinion. Thankfully, most tongue issues are not urgent.
In addition to illnesses & reactions, your dentist will also check to ensure your airway is not constricted. More & more dentists are becoming trained to care for sleep apnea, many without the use of CPAP machines. This check is done on the throat & includes the movement of the tongue when your airway is open. When your dentist tells you to say “ah” this is part of what they are checking.
For many issues with the tongue, your dentist will go over proper hygiene. It is important to brush your tongue & there can be benefits to using mouthwash to rid your mouth of germs. They may also recommend a change in diet & to drink more water. Many discomforts associated with the tongue can be easily remedied.
For more serious concerns, your dentist may recommend you to a general practice doctor or a specialist, such as an ear, nose & throat doctor. While your dentist may be able to help with certain issues, it can be more prudent to get care from a doctor when the possibility of issues beyond the mouth is present.
Whether your dentist will handle a tongue issue depends on several factors, but in all cases they can serve as great early detectors & save you from more serious problems down the road, especially when a proper hygiene schedule is maintained.