The upper surface of the tongue is covered with papillae, tiny tissues resembling a hair that contains tasty buds. Papillae are usually pink, velvety and ruby. Underneth them, a dark-red body (of the tongue) is located. In some cases, normal color and texture of the tongue are experiencing changes. Most of the tongue problems are not significant and they quickly heal. However, if the problem lasts longer than three weeks, go to a doctor or dentist.
In this disease papillae are no longer created, which means the body is exposed. The surface of the tongue becomes smooth, red and often painful, especially if you eat spicy food. Glossitis is sometimes a symptom of some other disease, e.g. sideropenic anemia or pernicious anemia. If you have any of the symptoms described, be sure to go to a doctor who will determine if you have any such illness. If you have it, the treatment of the underlying illness will also resolve the glossitis. If there is no basic disease, glossitis is not something that you should worry about, and it should disappear quickly. You will avoid pain if you do not eat hot, spicy and/or hard food.
In some people, the grooves on tongue are deeper or more extensive than usual. It is a normal occurrence and is not a sign of any illness. Occasionally, these fissures accumulate bacteria – which are always in the mouth – and can take on black or brown color; this color change is not a cause for concern.
The tongue will regain normal color if you clean it twice a day with a toothbrush soaked into an antiseptic mouthwash.
Black “hairy” tongue
In rare cases, papillae on tongue becomes unusually long and hairy-like. It is unknown what causes this, although in possible causes we can count fungal or bacterial infections of mouth, smoking and antibiotics. By the action of bacteria, papillae can sometimes take on black or dark brown color. The disorder is harmless, and it is treated as a fissured tongue (see above).
In some people papillae are not properly formed, though in the case of so-called geographic tongue the disease does not affect the entire surface of the tongue (as in glossitis), but only parts of it. Places (fields) of irregular formation of papillae can appear and disappear, and they reveal a smooth, dark red body of the tongue. They are often painful, especially if you eat spicy food. The disorder is harmless. The cause of the geographic tongue is not known, and there is no effective therapy.
Coated (white) tongue
Sick people, especially if they have fever, often have a whitish or yellowish coat on their tongues that looks like a fur. Patients generally speak and eat less than usual, and their tongue is less active, meaning it contains a layer of bacteria, food particles and excess cells.
In addition, the mouth is often dry in the patient, i.e. there is not enough saliva to wash the deposited layer. The tongue should regain normal appearance as soon as the disease is cured.
Bumps or ulceration
If the ulceration on you tongue does not disappear after three weeks talk to your doctor, even if you do not feel any pain. Bumps and ulcerations can be harmless, but also a sign of malignant tumor.