When you visit your dentist for a regular check-up, they will examine teeth and gums, that goes without saying. But, they will also have a look at your tongue, including the sides and bottom. You may be wondering why.
Oral Cancer Check
One of the most important reasons that your dentist will check your tongue during a routine dental exam is to check for signs of oral cancer. What will your dentist observe? A variety of issues are involved, and essentially your dentist is looking for changes and certain specific signs.
• They will examine the gingivae or gums;
• The inside of the cheeks;
• Roof and floor of your mouth;
• And, your tongue, including the sides and underneath.
A normal tongue is pink, with a rough texture above, and a smoother surface underneath. The tissue should be soft and pliable. Minor imperfections may occur for a variety of reasons. Your dentist is looking for specific signs. Signs that they will want to investigate include,
• Thickened tissues, lumps, hard spots;
• Patches of red or white skin;
• Rough or crusted areas;
• Sores that don’t heal;
• Spots that bleed easily.
Any signs of trouble will need further testing to come to a diagnosis. Often, depending on the nature of the abnormality, your dentist may want to follow up in a week or two before taking the next step.
An examination of the tongue can also find the signs of a number of other conditions and situations that will need treatment. For example, the minor salivary glands are located in the tissue under the tongue. Swelling can indicate problems that need more examination.
• Hairy Tongue – a condition where the papilla (those formations that create the tongue’s rough texture, including the taste buds,) take on an elongated form. There are a number of possible causes, including lack of proper cleaning of the tongue, and even overusing certain types of mouthwash.
• Biofilm – this is a gooey film that may cover the tongue, gums, and/or teeth, made up of bacteria and other undesirable elements. It can cause bad breath and even gum disease. The good news is that it is easy to remedy with proper regular hygiene.
• Glossitis – anemia and poor nutrition can cause inflammation of the tongue.
• Candidiasis – deep fissures and thick white patches on the surface of the tongue are the typical signs of this fungal infection, also known as thrush.
• Geographic Tongue – this condition gets its name because the tongue ends up resembling a map, with red raised sections with asymmetrical borders. The red patches are usually more sensitive to acidic or spicy foods.
If you have any questions about your dental health or dental hygiene, your dentist is the right person to ask. Looking for advice on any area of your dental health to focus on? You’ll find the answer at Dr. Robert Axelrad’s Dental Office in Brampton, ON.
If you’re looking for a well-regarded and highly skilled dentist in the Brampton area, make an appointment with Dr. Robert Axelrad by calling (905)-791-3867. Visit our website to learn more about our dental services.