What Color is a Healthy Tongue?

Apr 26, 2024 / Health Advice

By Dr. Ravi Menon
Department of Internal Medicine

Have you looked at your tongue lately? It can tell you a lot about your health. A healthy tongue is colored light pink to dark pink.

If your tongue is not a normal, healthy pink color, it might mean you have an illness, an infection, or possibly a vitamin deficiency. Poor oral hygiene can also cause a discolored tongue. (Note that when you look at your tongue closely, the small nodules you see are called papillae. These are important in helping you taste and enjoy your food and are not harmful in any way.)

How to maintain a healthy tongue

You can reduce your risk of tongue issues by following some simple guidelines:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Be sure to floss your teeth each day
  • Use your toothbrush or a scraper to clean your tongue daily
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash once a day
  • Don’t smoke or use any tobacco products
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Go to the dentist regularly for cleanings and exams

When should I see a doctor about my tongue?

It’s normal for your tongue to look slightly darker or lighter from one day to the next. However, if your tongue is consistently red, purple, blue, yellow, white, gray or black, it may indicate a serious medical issue. If your tongue’s color doesn’t improve, especially after improving your oral hygiene, you should schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider.

What Color is a Healthy Tongue?

About Ravi Menon, MD

Dr. Ravi Menon is a former Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army where he most recently practiced at Hanscom Air Force Base Health Clinic. “I had the opportunity to treat a broad spectrum of cases as an internist. I took care of soldiers, retirees, soldier’s families, as well as many others in both outpatient clinics and military operational settings; it was a great experience and an honor to serve. Practicing in the military is...

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