If you asked me how often I look at my tongue, my answer would be pretty much never.
Sure, I see it when I’m brushing my teeth each morning and night, but I never really take a good look at it. Why would I? Well, as it turns out, I might be making a big mistake.
Because our tongues are exposed to all kinds of bacteria (some good and some bad), they’re uniquely positioned to tell us if something’s wrong. Here’s what seven different tongue conditions could mean for your health.
1. If your tongue has white patches, you could have an easily treatable infection.
2. A black and/or hairy-looking tongue can indicate something treatable…or something very serious. Best to check with your doctor on this one.
3. If you’ve been eating scalding-hot soup or lots of ice cream recently, you might notice that your taste buds look a little worn. They’ll get better soon!
4. You might be sick or in need of vitamins if your tongue is especially red.
5. Does your tongue have a webbed or striped appearance? You might have this condition, which is chronic and can be painful, but it can’t be passed from person to person.
6. Don’t worry, ridges are totally normal!
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7. Bumps are usually canker sores or cold sores, the latter of which are caused by herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1), a lifelong virus.
Next time you brush your teeth, take a look at your tongue. You might learn that something’s wrong, or confirm that you’re perfectly healthy. Be sure to share this with others so they know about these potential warning signs, too.