As a health professional, San Jose dentist Dr. Wesley Yemoto DDS diagnoses and treats conditions of the teeth and gums every day. But you may not know that he examines all of the soft tissues of the mouth, including your tongue.
Have you ever considered all the amazing things your tongue can do? It helps us talk, perceive the texture and flavor of food, chew, and swallow. This strong and nimble gymnast is in near-constant motion during our waking hours. It is a wonder that we don’t accidentally bite it more often as we smile, chew, drink, breathe, swallow, cough, and laugh.
Your tongue can also reveal problems with your health, including digestive problems, infections, and diseases of the blood.
Here are some tongue abnormalities and possible causes:
- Swollen tongue: reaction to food/drink/medication, strep infection, leukemia, hypothyroidism
- White tongue: dehydration, yeast infection, irritation to tobacco, enteritis, gastritis, colitis, anemia or other nutritional deficiency
- Canker sores: may be triggered by stress or reaction to food, toothpaste, or mouthwash.
If you have persistent canker sores, you may want to try eliminating products that contain sodium lauryl (or laurel) sulfate (SLS). SLS is a cheap foaming agent that is found in many personal care products.
It can be difficult to find SLS-free dental products. The following brands have offered SLS-free versions, but check labels carefully every time you buy a new tube. SLS has re-appeared in some brands.
- Sensodyne Pronamel
- Tom’s of Maine
- Rembrandt Low Abrasion
If you can’t find an SLS-free toothpaste at the grocery store, try health food stores, specialty drug stores, or trusted online sites.
We recommend thorough dental hygiene, including cleaning the tongue.
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