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Despite its important, many often about their tongues, despite its fundamental functions. The tongue is not only critical for speech, but also in being able to eat and recognize flavors. In this blog article we will talk about your tongue and how it is part of your oral health.

Our tongue has a busy life. Although in general it is associated with speech, in reality the tongue is composed of many groups of muscles and has multiple functions.

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Speech itself is an important function that allows you communicate with others and to express your opinions. This seems so natural and obvious, although we often take it for granted. Another key function of the tongue is with the taste, as thanks to your taste buds you can differentiate between sweet, salty, bitter and sour. This is not only important for food lovers; it also serves to distinguish the food that is in poor condition to help you avoid indigestion. Finally, the tongue along with saliva are your natural toothbrush and toothpaste. Your tongue can help you keep your mouth clean from big pieces of food and residue.

With so much work, and like any other organ in the body, the tongue can also suffer from various disorders, ranging from a small and annoying sore, that does not pose any risk, to dangerous diseases such as cancer itself.

If you have pain, inflammation (swelling), changes in color or texture, abnormal movements or difficulty moving and taste disorders, it is possible that something is happening to your tongue. For you to be alert, here we have the main disorders or conditions that you have to consider:

  • Ulcers: Ulcers are painful sores, which can sprout periodically in the mouth and on the tongue. They are as annoying as they are common. The good news is that they are not contagious. In order to heal quicker, your doctor may prescribe a steroid based gel such as Lidex or silver nitrate, which you may apply yourself to relieve pain and speed up the healing.
  • Oral Candidiasis: This is an infection caused by a yeast-like fungus Candida albicans. It appears as white spots across the mouth that looks like curdled milk, but do not removed then if they look clean. It is painful and causes a dry mouth. Although anyone can suffer, candidiasis it affects people who take steroids or have a weak immune system. It is also more common in children and the elderly.
  • Geographic Tongue: It is an inflammation that causes the tongue to look like a map, due to irregular patches on its surface. In reality it is the loss of taste buds in certain areas, which makes them look flat. The condition usually lasts a month. Its specific cause is unknown, but it may be related to deficiencies of vitamin B. Other causes include alcohol and hot or spicy foods consumption.
  • Burning mouth or tongue Syndrome: This is a very common problem that causes the sensation that the tongue is burned and can make you perceive flavors differently.
  • Hairy tongue: it occurs when bacteria that live on the tongue make it look dark, making the tongue look bushy. It can also be produced by fungus. It is a benign condition that can be caused by poor oral hygiene, prolonged use of antibiotics, smoking or drinking coffee, tea or dark drinks in excess. It can be resolved quickly with antibiotics.
  • Leukoplakia: This occurs as a result of a prolonged irritation in the mouth in the form of white patches that you cannot remove. It can be benign or it can lead to cancer. Again, it is very important to seek medical evaluation to resolve it ASAP. Some may require surgery.
  • Oral Cancer: Like in other parts of the body, occurs when abnormal cells are multiplied, in this case in the mouth. Symptoms include a lump or ulcer progressively increasing in size. It is more common in people who smoke and/or drink alcohol.

The next time you brush your teeth, do not forget to brush the tongue to keep it very clean and free from infections. Also, remember to limit your coffee, alcohol consumption and to avoid smoking. If you notice that something is not right, or if you notice a strange growth or have discomfort, consult with your dentist.