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Video

Body Check – Tongue Transcript

Dr Christian: Our tongues have the obvious purpose of helping us eat and speak ñ but how they look can say a lot about our general health.

Serious conditions including cancer can occur in the mouth. So it’s really important that you have a good look for any of the warning signs.

A healthy tongue will be pink and clean. It should be covered in small bumps called papillae, which help us to taste.

If your tongue looks red or the papillae are inflamed it could indicate glossitis; or if this is only in patches – it’s known as geographic tongue. This isn’t usually a major concern but it may mean you’re not getting enough iron, folic acid or Vitamin B-12 in your diet.

A black coating on the tongue is again not a serious problem but does highlight an overgrowth of bacteria and yeast in the mouth. Better oral hygiene – that’s including brushing your tongue – and not smoking will make a big difference.

A white coating on the tongue could mean you’re dehydrated; or it can be oral thrush, which can also occur in those with a weakened immune system or again from poor oral hygiene.

*******

Dr Christian: Do you know anyone with really bad breath?

Girl 1: Errm, not that i’d wanna name names

Dr Christian: No!

Man 1: Ex Girlfriend back home, i didn’t have the guts to tell her.

Dr Christian: Have you even been told you have bad breath? Now you’re cleaning your teeth with your tongue automatically

V/O: Do you know what causes bad breath?

Girl 2: No

Girl 3: Bacteria

Man 2: Not cleaning your teeth

Girl 4: Garlic,

Girl 5: Garlic a lot.

Girl 4: Yes.

Girl 5: Onion.

Girl 4: Yes.

*******

Dr Christian: Not brushing your teeth well enough is often to blame for bacteria spreading in the mouth – and they can cause bad breath. The simplest way to check for this is to take a spoon, run it along the back of your tongue and then take a sniff. Whatever you smell is exactly what others will.

******

Girl 5: Yeah i can smell that. Haha

Man 2: I can’t smell anything.

Man 3: Ugh!

******

Dr Christian: And finally, ulcers are one of the commonest conditions you’ll find in the mouth, either on the tongue, gums or lips. They should normally go within about 6 weeks; but if they persist for a long time and don’t heal, then get them checked out; as occasionally they may be an oral cancer.

Next time you’re brushing your teeth give your tongue a once over as well – and make sure to let us know what you find.

For this body check and others featured on the site we want to hear about your findings. So please come back, share your results and discuss them with other site users.

If you have any ongoing concerns it would also be advisable to chat to your dentist or your GP.

Read the video transcript

Body Check: Tongue

Tongues have the obvious purpose of helping us to eat and speak, but they can also be indicative of our health. In this video, Dr Christian talks about how to check the tongue for any abnormalities.

A healthy tongue should be pink, clean and covered in papillae which contain taste buds.
Inflamed, red, black or white tongues, though usually just a sign of poor oral hygiene, could be a sign of other conditions like glossitis, geographic tongue or thrush. A swollen tongue can be a sign of an allergic reaction, and if it persists you should contact your GP for a check-up. The swollen tongue image from this video comes from noricum and is licensed under creative commons.

Ulcers are one of the most common conditions, either on the tongue, gums or lips. They usually clear up in about 6 weeks, but if they persist do go and see a GP because it may be a sign of something more serious.

Poor oral hygiene can lead to bacteria spreading in the mouth and they lead to bad breath. To check for bad breath, take a spoon and run it along the back of your tongue and then take a sniff. Whatever you smell, is exactly what others will.

We want to hear about your findings, so please click the link below and add your results to our national survey.

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Comments and Questions

You can share your experiences and thoughts with other Embarrassing Bodies site-users below. Comments & Questions are reviewed by moderators, but if you see anything on the site that worries you, please report it and one of our moderators will look at it as soon as possible.
Please note: Unfortunately Channel 4 cannot respond to individual inquiries. If you have any concerns, you can check out NHS Choices, but ultimately it is always best to check with a health professional.

My tounge has always been white-ish and has numerous cracks and cutts! I brush my teeth regularly and I don't know how to gt red of it!! Please help!





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I've had a sore throat for about 6 weeks and my tongue feels sore and swollen particularly when I've eaten something with salt I am a smoker only about 6 a day normally but as this irritates it I've only been having a couple a day . It's getting me down now as I find it hard to swallow ?





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I have adult asthma and lately I have been suffering from an uncomfortable throat problem, I can't say sore because it's not as such. Feels like things get stuck in there, now my tongue has green patches on it and I have the most vile taste in my mouth that no amount of brushing, tongue scraping or mouthwash will get rid off. I was recently treated for lack of folic acid in my system, although I have not been given any explanation as to why I'm wasn't producing any, no follow up has been done. Is it possible the two are linked?





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I have a white tounge and big bumps on the back of my tongue, how to get rid of this? People have also told me I have bad breath any way to cure this?





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I have had a lot of pain in my belly for 3 days and this morning i notice my tounge is green can you please tell me why my belly is still very painfull and is working it's way to my back I would be great full for any advice thank you





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i am 51 male have mole on left side of tounge last from 2 months i used the drugs like diazepem and quitipin tabs in large doze for about a year so please suggest me some remedy to get rid of this





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I have a healthy diet, I always drink 2/3 litres of water a day. 2/3 cups of tea or coffee (no sugar) on average. I don't smoke and occasionally have a glass or two of wine. I have excellent oral hygiene ( confirmed by my dentist). I am not on any medication and have not had antibiotics within the last two years. Yet I seem to have a furry white patch that runs straight down the middle of my tongue. When I brush my teeth, I do brush my tongue too, as well as using a tongue scraper.





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I have always told my kid when they brush don't forget your tounge BBecause growing up I heard that you should brush it for a healthier mouth.

Went on holiday last week. I know have to bumps at the back of my tongue & my tonge feels numb.It came on between two days off being on holidays, I have been GP they say they do not know what it is. Please can you help me as I am very worried, can I see a specialist. Kind Regards Daniel





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that picture of a so called healthy tounge has way to many red bumps to be healthy, those bumps should be pink not red... how do you not notice this HSV





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Under my tongue in the back I have a white patch and its right were my false teeth stop .Its very painful when it cracks open .the sides of cheaks feel warm and sore.And my voice changes and becomes hard to sallow. The salt water makes me feel like my mouth on fire.I tryed magic mouth wash it takes the pain away just for a few mins.





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It looks like no one else has asked this question, so please fill in the rest of your details below.





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