3. Tongues can get cancer
Many oral cancers are missed in their early stages. A regular tongue inspection—say, once a week—can help to screen for oral cancer. “Stick your tongue out in the mirror and look around,” says Dr. Swan. Check the top, bottom and sides. Look for any skin changes, cuts or white or red patches that aren’t healing after a week or two.
Your dentist or dental hygienist should be examining your tongue during regular appointments, especially if you’re over 40. In a study in India, when tens of thousands of people were screened for mouth cancer, the death rate from this disease dropped by more than a third. If your dental care professional isn’t already giving your tongue a once-over, make a point of asking her to have a look.