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The TONGUE TELL is an important indicator of our health as it can provide clues as to what is occurring within our bodies. It is linked to many of our vital organs, and its different colors, textures, coatings, and shapes can provide information regarding our health. Discover how to read your body’s messages by learning what your tongue indicates.

Diagnosis of tongue disorders 

There is only one muscle in the body that is not covered by skin, the tongue tell. During an examination of the tongue tell by an Oriental Medicine practitioner, they look at the length, the overall size (swollen or not), the shape (cracked, teeth marks or not), the color, the amount of saliva, and any details about the coat fur on top.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, the tongue is further divided into sections and relates to the meridians and organ systems of the body. This allows the practitioner to monitor the progress of treatment and create a picture of what is occurring within the body by location, nature, and severity.

Westerners view the tongue as a valuable tool for analyzing a person’s digestion, lymphatic system function, blood quality, neurological function, the presence of yeast or other growths in the body, as well as any longstanding conditions or constitutional conditions.

What is the process of tongue diagnosis?

Tongue diagnosis is a relatively quick process. The only thing you need to do is to stick your tongue tell out for a few seconds. It is important for the practitioner to examine the patient from tip to back and from top to bottom.

The first thing to examine is the color of the tongue overall, whether it is red, pale, or purple. The next aspect to consider is its size. Does it appear small, thin, or swollen? The thickness and color of the tongue’s coating are also considered: if there is no coating or if the layer of coating is thicker than usual. What is the color of the coating? Is it white, yellow, or black? Is it moist? Does it appear to be dry or wet? Look for teeth marks, red bumps, purple patches, etc.

When you hold your tongue out for an extended period of time, the color of your tongue tell will change. For this reason, your licensed practitioner may ask you to close your mouth for a few seconds and then extend your tongue again during the visit.

The white patches

A white spot on the tongue could indicate thrush, a fungal infection (shown here). Sometimes this occurs as a result of an illness or medication that disrupts the balance of bacteria in your mouth. Those white patches that appear lacy could be lichen planus, a condition in which your immune system attacks the tissues in your mouth. There is a possibility that you may have leukoplakia if you see hard, flat, white areas on your skin that cannot be scraped away. If you notice any white patches, please inform your dentist


Hair on Your Tongue

It is possible that you have a hairy tongue if the coating on your tongue appears to be black, brown, or white fur. The “hairs” are proteins that transform normal, small bumps into longer strands where food and bacteria can become trapped. You should be able to remove it by brushing or scraping your tongue. Symptoms of oral hairy leukoplakia include hairy, white patches that cannot be scraped off. Viruses such as Epstein-Barr and HIV may cause this. 

The black tongue

A hairy tongue may appear black in color. You may also experience darkening of your tongue after taking an antacid containing bismuth as an ingredient. It may stain the tongue black when mixed with saliva in the case of some individuals. It is harmless and will disappear once you stop taking the medication.

Bright Red Tongue

There is a possibility that a strawberry-red tongue may be an early sign of Kawasaki disease, a rare, serious disease that leads to the inflammation of blood vessels throughout the body, most commonly in children. Scarlet fever is also characterized by this symptom. You might have a deficiency of vitamin B3 if your red tongue is also smooth and you experience pain in your mouth.

Burning Feeling

Having burning mouth syndrome may cause your tongue to feel as if you have scalded it with hot coffee and taste metallic or bitter. You may have a problem with your tongue’s nerves. Health problems such as dry mouth, infections, acid reflux, and diabetes may also contribute to it. Acidic foods such as pineapple, toothpaste, mouthwash, candy, and gum can also cause mouth burning for some people.

Smooth Tongue

A tongue without any small bumps on the top may appear glossy red. It is possible to develop it if you do not consume enough iron, folic acid, or B vitamins. Some medications, infections, and celiac disease can also cause it. There may be a geographical tongue if you have smooth areas adjacent to bumpy ones. It is common for the spots to come and go, and sometimes they are painful or burning. There is no cause for concern, but it may be associated with psoriasis or lichen planus.


The tongue is a common site for canker sores (shown here) — small, painful, reddish bumps that appear and disappear on their own. If your tongue becomes irritated, you may experience a single, painful bump at the tip, known as transient lingual papillitis. The tip and sides of the mouth may also be affected by a virus. Let your doctor or dentist know if you have a lump on or under your tongue that doesn’t go away. You will be required to undergo an oral cancer screening.


You may experience great pain if you bite or injure your tongue because it contains many nerve endings.  Pain may result from canker sores, lichen planus, thrush, and geographic tongue. It is also possible for some medications and infections to cause soreness of the tongue. The presence of a lump or red or white patches on your tongue can also indicate cancer. Consult your physician or dentist regarding these concerns.  


It occurs when the tongue is too large compared to the rest of the mouth. Your doctor may find imprints of your teeth on the sides of it as it can take up so much space. The underlying cause of your symptoms may be hypothyroidism, an infection, or allergies, among others.

Above all, it is important to examine all areas of concern. It is important to schedule an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible if you notice any abnormalities on your tongue or in your mouth.

To ensure you remain in optimal health, we recommend scheduling regular preventative dental appointments every six months.

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