- Slideshow: Top Problems in Your Mouth
- Teeth Whiteners That Work
- Dental (Oral) Health Quiz
- Patient Comments: Tongue Problems - Describe Your Problems
- Patient Comments: Tongue Problems - Treatments
- Patient Comments: Tongue Problems - Infants and Children
- Patient Comments: Tongue Problems - Hairy Tongue
- Patient Comments: Tongue Problems - Oral Cancer
- Patient Comments: Tongue Problems - Leukoplakia
- Find a local Doctor in your town
- Tongue facts
- What are common tongue problems?
- What causes tongue problems?
- What are the risk factors for tongue problems?
- White tongue
- Red tongue
- Black tongue
- Increased size or tongue swelling
- Growths on the tongue
- Abnormalities of the tongue surface
- Tongue pain
- Altered sensation of the tongue
- Taste problems
- Problems with tongue movement
- What are tongue problems in infants and children?
- What are tongue problems in pregnancy?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose tongue problems?
- Are there home remedies for tongue problems?
- What are the treatments for tongue problems?
- Is it possible to prevent tongue problems?
- What is the prognosis for tongue problems?
Quick GuideDental Health: Top Problems in Your Mouth
Is it possible to prevent tongue problems?
Some tongue problems are preventable by practicing good oral hygiene and eating a healthy, nutritious diet while some tongue conditions cannot be prevented at all but symptoms can be managed with treatment. Other tongue problems are the byproduct of an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed. Once addressed, the tongue problem generally resolves.
Exercising moderation or altogether quitting the habit of smoking and drinking alcohol will decrease the risk of developing oral cancer. A vaccine for HPV is being studied, and it may help in guarding against oral cancers, as well. Oral cancer screenings should always take place during routine dental visits. Screenings can also take place with an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician.
What is the prognosis for tongue problems?
Fortunately, most tongue problems are benign and treatable. Therefore, the prognosis is generally very good.
In regard to growths on the tongue, the main concern is oral cancer. Early detection and treatment usually provides the best chance for recovery and survival. The prognosis for oral cancer is dependent upon the stage of the cancer, the location of the tumor, and whether the cancer has spread to blood vessels. Frequent follow-up and close monitoring are crucial parts of care. Unfortunately, the overall prognosis for oral cancer is generally poor. In the U.S., approximately half of individuals newly diagnosed with oral cancer do not survive after more than five years. Despite advances in treatment with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, the poor prognosis is due to the cancer being discovered at a later stage in its development.
When treating tongue cancer with surgery, the patient may experience the complication of numbness of the tongue. The numbness may or may not resolve. Radiation and chemotherapy treatment may also cause decreased saliva flow and changes in taste that may take time to improve or not improve at all.
Majorana, Alessandra, et al. "Oral mucosal lesions in children from 0 to 12 years old: ten years' experience." Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod (2010).
Reamy, Brian, et al. "Common Tongue Conditions in Primary Care." American Family Physician (2010): 627-634.