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Five Things Your Tongue Can Tell You

family dentist in Coos Bay

As a family dentist in Coos Bay, Dr. Lori Lemire wants all of her patients to enjoy the very best oral health possible. Your mouth acts as a gateway to your body in more ways than just through the foods you eat. Your oral health is closely linked to your overall health, which means your mouth can tell you a lot about your body if you know where to look. With that in mind, here are a few signs to look for the next time you brush.

Swollen Grey or White Lump Under Your Tongue

This could mean you suffer from a clogged salivary gland. This happens when a blockage occurs in the tiny ducts below your tongue that prevent saliva from properly draining, which in turn causes swelling to occur. A common sign of a blocked saliva duct is a saliva stone. If the problem persists longer than a couple of days, call Dr. Lemire to schedule an appointment. You may require surgery to correct the problem.

Oral Sores With Surrounding Halos

A healthy tongue should appear pink and fairly smooth with no visible bumps or lumps. If you notice any whitish or red patches, a sore surrounded by a red ring, a white lace-like pattern or a sore that refuses to heal, alert Dr. Lemire immediately. Any of the previously mentioned symptoms could be an early warning sign for cancer. While better early detection methods have helped to lower the rates of most forms of cancer, the prevalence of oral cancer has actually risen by roughly 25 percent over the last 10 years, due in part by infrequent dental visits and the widespread contraction of HPV.

Swollen Tongue

If your tongue feels thick or swollen, you need to check your diet; you could be suffering from a vitamin deficiency. In fact, if you suffer from a B12 deficiency, the first place you’ll notice the symptoms is the tongue. B12 plays a vital role in the creation of red blood cells, and diets without enough can cause you to develop anemia. Fortunately, B12 is found in a variety of common foods including dairy, red meat, fish, tofu and poultry. Vegan diets may require taking a B12 supplement to ensure a healthy intake.


Of all the symptoms listed so far, oral swelling requires the most immediate attention, as it could signal that you’re having an allergic reaction. While a swollen tongue may cause some discomfort, the real concern is swelling in the airway located behind the tongue. This can become life-threatening should your airway become blocked, so don’t hesitate to call emergency assistance if you think you’re having an allergic attack.

Dry Mouth

Unsurprisingly, dry mouth occurs when the mouth fails to produce enough saliva. This can result in an uncomfortable dryness that can negatively impact the bacterial balance in the mouth. If left untreated, persistent dry mouth can increase your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Dry mouth is especially common among seniors who take certain types of medication. Make sure to drink plenty of water and talk with your family dentist in Coos Bay, Dr. Lori Lemire, should you continue to experience dry mouth. Dr. Lemire may have a recommendation for a similar type of prescription medication that does not cause dry mouth as a symptom.

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