The tongue is a powerful muscular organ inside your mouth essential for proper speech and chewing and manipulating food. So, if there appears to be something wrong, it’s perfectly natural to be concerned. And indeed, the color of your tongue can change to a variety of odd shades that you might not be used to. So if your tongue has turned yellow, what’s going on?
This post will explore how the tongue can change colors and what a yellow tongue can mean.
A Look At The Tongue
On the surface of your tongue are many raised bumps, called papillae. They contribute to the texture of the tongue and help grip food while you chew. In addition, the papillae contain taste receptors that communicate signals to your brain. When you eat food, these papillae can sense chemicals in the food mixed with saliva. They play a large role in your sense of taste.
Due to their texture, the tongue’s papillae can accumulate debris from food, cells from the surfaces of the mouth that have undergone replacement, and bacteria. These can accumulate and coat the tongue’s upper surface, which can be visible if especially thick.
Normally, the tongue is a fleshy, pink color. After a meal, you may find that the tongue is covered in a thin white coating, which is comprised of bits of what you’ve just eaten.
But what if the coating is yellow? Or even black?
Why Is My Tongue Yellow?
Your tongue can turn yellow due to dead skin cells accumulating as part of the coating on top. This is especially true if you use tobacco products, which can cause staining. Fortunately, a yellow tongue is mostly harmless and can be fixed by maintaining thorough oral hygiene.
Brushing your tongue is an often overlooked part of an oral hygiene routine, but it will make sure your tongue is clean and free of accumulated debris. However, specialized tools are also commonly available for the task of cleaning your tongue. A tongue cleaner is one such device that you can use to scrape the tongue, and you can find it at your local pharmacy.
However, a yellow tongue can also signify jaundice, which is a more serious condition. Jaundice is a yellow or greenish coloration of the skin, whites of the eyes, and possibly other surfaces on the body. It happens when you have an excess of bilirubin, a yellow compound that the body naturally produces as part of its metabolism.
Symptoms of jaundice include:
- Yellow skin that persists for more than two weeks
- Yellow whites of the eyes that persist for more than two weeks
- Blood in your stool
- Vomiting and abdominal pain
If you suspect that you have jaundice, you must see a physician or doctor as soon as possible. In the absence of these symptoms, however, a yellow tongue is mostly harmless.
Maintaining your tongue’s natural color is as simple as maintaining good oral hygiene. Brush twice a day using fluoride toothpaste, floss regularly, avoid foods that are high in sugar and use a tongue cleaner if you prefer. Your tongue should return to its normal color. But importantly, make sure you incorporate brushing your tongue into your daily routine. If you have any questions, a qualified dental professional will be able to help point you in the right direction.
Pasadena Oral Surgery offers personalized, high-quality surgery for every patient. We pride ourselves on making a difference by keeping patients comfortable through their surgery and priming them for success. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, give us a call at (281) 299-0053.