Why do Doctors Check a Patient’s Tongue?

Tongue Check-Up
21 Apr 2022

Why do Doctors Check a Patient’s Tongue?

When you go for your annual physical, one of the first things your doctor would probably ask you to do is to stick out your tongue for them to take a look. You might probably wonder why he needs to look at your tongue. Your tongue can’t possibly show what’s happening in your body, or can it?

Let’s look at why doctors take a look at your tongue and how an oral examination can help detect health issues.

Why the Tongue? 

The tongue examination didn’t start now. The tongue is an organ in the mouth. It typically has a warm pinkish color, and anything contrary is a quick indicator that something is wrong. Chinese medical practitioners and acupuncturists in ancient times would look at the tongue to determine whether or not there were underlying health issues. 

From digestive issues and stress to more severe cases like cancer, the tongue can indicate. For cancer, a VELscope oral cancer screening Carlstadt exam may be conducted. General examination gathers information about your body before other symptoms are visible. While the tongue may not clearly define the particular ailment, it is a perfect place to start. If you know what to look out for, you can tell a lot about a patient’s condition by carefully looking at the tongue. 

How a Tongue Examination Works

While using the tongue to diagnose diseases is very individual to each patient, when there are changes in the color, body, and coating of the tongue, or when it is abnormally dry or moist, you know there is something wrong. As we’ve seen, the tongue is typically warm, pink, and moist. Any change to this state is a ready indicator of an underlying health issue. 

Tongue examination, mainly a VELscope exam, is not only for diagnostic purposes but can be used for prevention. Generally, bacteria on the tongue and in the mouth can travel to other body parts and cause health issues. For instance, bacteria can enter the bloodstream through the gums and clog up your arteries leading to heart and circulatory problems. A VELscope oral cancer screening examination can be used to spot cancer quickly. 

Signs doctors look out for during an oral exam.

Generally, if your tongue becomes more moist than usual paler and quivers slightly, you’re probably coming down with a cold. 

This yeast infection develops inside the mouth, appearing as white patches. Having a white tongue or white spots on your tongue can signify oral thrush. Oral thrush is usually seen in infants, older people, and persons with lung disease and diabetes. Oral thrush may also occur when you take antibiotics.

The tongue takes on a strawberry-like red and bumpy look and feels when a patient has scarlet fever. Having a red tongue can signify a vitamin deficiency, like folic acid and vitamin B-12. A black tongue is typically harmless and might be caused by poor oral hygiene, medication, smoking, a soft diet, or a dry mouth.

The tongue doesn’t just indicate physical health issues. Chinese acupuncturists claimed that carefully examining the tongue can also show mental health problems. For instance, if you’ve been overthinking and worrying about issues, the tongue appears greasy. Or it might just mean that you’ve been eating a lot of junk food lately. A question or two always helps the doctor confirm precisely what the problem might be.

Tongue Colors:

White — On the off chance that your tongue has a thick white covering, it could demonstrate oral thrush. This is especially normal in newborn children, those with debilitated resistant frameworks, and the people who utilize breathed-in steroids. In the event that the white is sketchy, it very well may be an excess of cells and a forerunner to disease. Have it looked at.

Red — A red tongue demonstrates heat in your body, like contamination or fever. A dazzling red tongue can likewise demonstrate an absence of folic corrosive or vitamin B-12. At the point when a red tongue went with a high fever, it very well may be an indication of red fever or Kawasaki illness (most normal in those aged 5 and under). In the event that you experience a high fever, get looked at by your primary care physician rapidly.

Purple or Blue — A purple or blue tongue can demonstrate issues with your cardiovascular framework. Your PCP will actually want to look at your heart and lungs near ensure that there is no proof of cyanosis — a condition where your blood doesn’t convey sufficient oxygen. It can likewise be an indication of riboflavin (B2) lack.

Dark or Brown — This looks significantly more alarming than it is. The “bushy tongue” is generally brought about by smoking, yet in addition, can be because of terrible oral cleanliness or a symptom of chemotherapy. With appropriate oral cleanliness, this generally disappears all alone.

Inspect your tongue day to day. Assuming you foster injuries or knocks on your tongue that last over about fourteen days, see your PCP or dental specialist. The oral disease generally starts with no related aggravation, so a visual review is your smartest option for early identification.

Can other Body Parts give similar Insights?

Before laboratory tests were created, medical practitioners conducted their examinations by looking at the eyes, skin, pulse, tongue, and other body areas for information about a patient’s health. For the eyes, they might check whether they are clear, red, moist, or dry. They may also check what areas of the eye these conditions affect. The doctor may look for texture, moisture, and color changes in the skin; even how a person walks and talks can offer insight into their overall health if you know what to look out for. 

Generally, anything outside of the norm can quickly indicate an issue. It’s always important to look at the body holistically to quickly spot health concerns before they are fully manifest. 


Your tongue offers a lot of insight into your health, so doctors ask you to take a look when conducting a physical exam or velscope vx treatment. Before going for a physical, especially when it’s a VELscope exam, ensure that you do not take anything that would affect the normal state of your tongue. Do not scrape it; eat colored candy or drink coffee before visiting. Those activities can make tongue diagnosis a challenge, if not an impossibility. Visit us at Smiles by Rizzo, Carlstadt, NJ, so that you can learn more about the options available to you before you make any decisions visit Dr. Rizzo. Schedule an appointment or call Dental Clinic Carlstadt at 201-939-5770.