Your tongue says a lot about your oral health. Stick your tongue out the next time you look in the mirror. Does it look pink and covered in small nodules? Congratulations! You have a healthy tongue. If your tongue starts to look different than this, it could be a sign of a problem. Here are some warning signs that you may have a medical issue.

Filmy or White Spots

If you notice a filmy covering on your tongue or small groups of whitish spots, this could be an indication of thrush. Thrush is a yeast infection that is most common in infants and the elderly, it also can develop in older children and adults. Although thrush is not dangerous, it does need to be treated by a doctor. Another reason for white spots could be Leukoplakia, which is an overgrowth of cells in the mouth. Leukoplakia is common among smokers and could be a sign of cancer, so talk to your dentist right away.


A healthy tongue should appear pink. If your tongue is red, almost as if you’ve had a cherry popsicle or lollypop, this could be an indication of issues such as:

  • A Folic Acid or B-12 Deficiency – your dentist may recommend adding supplements to your diet.
  • Scarlet Fever – although scarlet fever is extremely rare in this day and age, it can occur, especially if you have a compromised immune system. If you also have a high fever, see your doctor right away. They will need to treat you with antibiotics.

Bumpy Sores

If you have sores on your tongue, talk to your dentist right away. Although they can be caused by irritation or smoking, they also can be an early indication of oral cancer.

Be sure to pay attention to your tongue when you’re brushing your teeth every day. If you notice any of these tongue abnormalities, make an appointment with Dr. Zola Makrauer or Dr. Julie Miller at Huntingdon Valley Dental Arts right away.