At each dental cleaning and oral examination, you can expect your dentist to inspect every aspect of your mouth including your tongue. You may wonder what exactly your dentist is looking for when this examination occurs. Your tongue can relay important information to your dentist about your oral and overall health.

What Is My Dentist Looking For?

There are various ailments and issues that your tongue can reveal to your dentist. During an oral examination, your dentist checks for any signs of tongue cancer or any other potential conditions or diseases. Here are few conditions your dentist looks for when he/she checks your tongue.


During your examination, your dentist performs an oral cancer screening. When your dentist is inspecting your tongue for signs of cancer, he/she looks for white patches called Leukoplakia. Leukoplakia develops from a rapid growth of cells in the mouth and presents as or white patches or masses in the mouth or on the tongue. Leukoplakia could be benign, but your dentist needs to examine and test to ensure that the condition does not develop into cancer.

Oral Thrush

Thrush develops as a result of imbalance of yeast in the mouth. It presents as a white coating over the tongue. Antibiotics and proper oral hygiene are the ways to treat oral thrush.

Vitamin Deficiencies

If your dentist sees signs of overall health issues, he/she works with your and your primary care physician to identify deficiencies. If you are low in folate, B12, iron, or other vitamins, it affects the pigment of your tongue. Talk to your doctor about these concerns to keep your overall health in check.

Injuries or Other Causes for Concerns

If there are injuries to your tongue, it’s important for your dentist to inspect the injury and determine the cause. Injuries can come from unintentional bites, burns, food irritations, or teeth grinding. Your dentist will want to check any injuries to find the cause as well as the progression of healing. If there is irritation that is a result of smoking or vaping, your dentist assesses the problem and suggest how to improve the issues going forward.

How Can I Check My Tongue for Issues?

It’s important to inspect your own mouth and tongue for any issues you may need to report to your dentist in between visits. Here are some things you should look for and discuss with your doctor:

  • Any changes in the pigment
  • Pigment patches
  • Concerning textures, sores, or bumps

It’s important to clean your tongue regularly to keep issues at bay. Use your toothbrush, a tongue scraper, or mouthwash to help keep your mouth and everything in it healthy.

Our team at Danville Family Dentistry is here to help keep your oral health in good standing. To schedule a cleaning, your routine examination, or learn more about the process, contact us.

Are you on Facebook? We are, too! Let’s be friends!

Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.