Did you know that plaque will start to turn into tartar within just 24 to 72 hours? This is just one reason why it’s so important to brush with tartar removing toothpaste or plaque removing dental gel. Your teeth and gums aren’t the only part of your mouth susceptible to plaque and tartar buildup. Bacteria also builds up on your tongue. Your tongue is covered in tiny bumps which are called papillae, and bacteria tends to get caught and develop in the grooves between these bumps. What’s more, this bacteria can rub off on your teeth, causing plaque buildup and even cavities. Your tongue’s cleanliness and appearance have a big impact on your overall oral health. By checking out the color, texture, and patterns on your tongue’s surface, you can get a glimpse into the state of your oral health. The following are some things to look out for.

White Coating

If your tongue appears to have a white film or coating on it, it may be a result of overgrowing papillae. Alternatively, it could be the result of plaque or food debris building up over time, creating a sheet over your tongue. While a white coating can appear on anyone’s tongue at any time, it’s more likely to strike if you have dry mouth or don’t take care of your oral hygiene well. This overgrowth can be stained by foods or drinks, which could lead to the next condition on our list.

Black or Brown Tint

This condition is also known as “black hairy tongue.” While that name may sound horrifying, the condition itself isn’t always that big of a deal. It’s usually the result of papillae overgrowth, like the condition above. Only in this case, the overgrown papillae (remember, they’re the tiny bumps on your tongue) pick up stains from certain foods, drinks, medications, or tobacco products. It could also result from poor oral hygiene or dry mouth. Typically, this condition will go away on its own as long as you begin exercising proper hygiene with good tartar removing toothpaste. If you’re a tobacco user, it will also help relieve your condition to give up tobacco use for a while.

“Geographic Tongue”

This condition manifests as a smooth, red and patchy appearance on your tongue with a white border. Fortunately, it’s usually a harmless condition. The red, patchy areas may appear to move around from time to time, and they might become sore and irritated if you eat spicy foods. Its cause isn’t known, but it seems to run in certain families.

White Patches

White patches on your tongue could correlate with an overgrowth of yeast in your mouth. This usually occurs in newborns, pregnant women, the elderly, those with dentures, and people who suffer from dry mouth. It may also show up as a result of a weakened immune system, as it can turn up for people taking antibiotics and those with certain illnesses such as diabetes. For this condition, your oral hygienist or doctor may prescribe an anti-fungal medication.

White Lacy Pattern

A white lacy pattern on your tongue or inner cheeks could be a symptom of oral lichen planus. This is a condition that occurs when your immune system is attacking the cells in your mouth. You may also notice sore red patches.

Yellow Tint

If you notice that your tongue has a yellow tint, it may be an indication of acid reflux or infection. It could also be an early stage of black hair tongue (see above). For the latter, you can brush your teeth and tongue using fluoride free toothpaste or plaque removal dental gel to improve your oral health.

Strawberry Pattern

If your tongue becomes swollen and bumpy with a texture and color similar to a strawberry’s, you may be contracting strep throat or Kawasaki disease. Otherwise, it could be an allergic reaction to a food or drug.

Pale and Smooth

A pale, smooth appearance on your tongue can be an indication of anemia or iron levels that are too low.

While some of these conditions are harmless, for others you should consult your doctor. With tartar removing toothpaste and a good oral hygiene routine, you can keep your tongue and mouth healthy for life.