What the Color of Your Tongue Says About Your Health According to Researchers

A Family physician at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Daniel Allan, said “Any discoloration, lumps, sores or pain (of the tongue) should be monitored and evaluated by a medical expert if they don’t go away within two weeks”. Have you ever wondered why doctors examine your mouth during a regular medical checkup? Well, you shouldn’t be surprised, when the doctor asked you to say “ah”, they are glancing at your tonsils and tongue.

It is possible that you notice this routine only take a few seconds most time. It is due to the fact that a doctor can, with a glance, understand the nature of how your tongue appears. If you think about it, the tongue is usually overlooked. Mostly, it is not invisible to others and we usually don’t pay much attention to it unless we are brushing.

However, the tongue is a necessary aspect of our health and its function. Without tongue, we can’t eat, drink, taste, chew, or even talk.

We all know that tongue doesn’t have skin; instead it is covered with a pink, moist tissue and maintained by a large flow of blood. The moist tissue and high blood content enable the tongue it is red-pink coloration. The tongue’s color offers the most valuable information.


There are three sections in tongue which are the apex, body, and the root. The apex is the tip; the body is the rest of the tongue extending back into the throat, and the root fixes the tongue to the mouth’s base.

Abnormal color

As earlier mentioned, a healthy tongue usually has a red-pink hue and there are some colors that may be considered unusual. They include blue, black, bright red, purple, white, and yellow.

White: If a tongue is whitish in nature, it is a great concern as it is the most common form of discoloration. It is mostly associated to continued, poor oral hygiene. Some other health conditions that might cause whitening of the tongue are as follows:

·        Canker sores: This is visible white sores around the tongue. Cancer sores mostly contain white to yellowish lesions at the center. It could be painful but canker sores are mostly harmless. The repeated cases however should be examined to test for possible underlying conditions.

·        Leukoplakia: This condition is associated with irritation of the tongue. And chewing tobacco is responsible for it. The condition makes cells known as mucous membranes to inflame. Discoloration is evident when the apex of the tongue or inner cheek of the mouth shows whitish-grey patches.

·        Oral thrush (candidiasis): This usually manifest from yeast called Candida albicians. The yeast forms white, creamy textured patches on the tongue’s surface. Thrush can happen to anybody although people with suppressed immune system, the very young, and the elderly are especially liable.

Black: It could be a strange thing as medical condition doesn’t actually lead to a black tongue. In some situations, the tongue might seem black by elongation of the papillae which is a small bump on its surface. Some conditions such as certain OTC medications (such as antibiotics and bismuth), mouthwash products, poor oral hygiene, or tobacco use can lead to black tongue.

BLUE: When a tongue looks blue, it implies there is a need for emergency. As is the case with other parts of the body, blue color usually indicates a cutoff of blood somewhere. A blue tongue could be a sign of cyanosis, a serious condition that affect oxygen supply to our tissue. Cyanosis may be caused by blood disorders, blood vessel diseases, or cardiac conditions.

BRIGHT RED: This color could be due to several things. Glossits or inflammation of the tongue is the common cause. Also, a bright red tongue may be a sign of nutrient deficiency. According to a family physician, Dr. Danial Allan, “Folic acid and vitamin B-12 deficiencies may cause the tongue to take on a reddish appearance.”

PURPLE: A tongue with purple color is usually not common compared to other tongue discolorations. There are basically two major suspects for a purple tongue and they are; nutrient deficiency (most especially lack of vitamin B2), and a precursor to blue tongue which is potentially-severe medical condition.

YELLOW: Yellow tongue is a rare tint for the tongue, just as with purple color. It usually precedes the growth of black tongue. Sporadically, a yellow tongue could be a sign of jaundice, a medical condition causing yellowing or greenish pigmentation of the skin due to high bilirubin levels.


Anytime you are brushing your pearly whites, ensure you do a quick check of your tongue. Always clean the tongue with the use of a tongue scrapper as it can help gets rid of some of the white stuff hanging around the tongue.

In addition, you need to take note of any lumps, lesions or other strange growths. When there is any sore that didn’t disappear within 14 days, it is necessary to visit a medical doctor.

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