This is what your tongue tells you about your health

This is what your tongue tells you about your health

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Maartje Damen-Brands works at Amsterdam's holistic dental practice De Liefde. As a holistic dentist, she treats clients from a holistic perspective. This means Maartje sees your teeth as part of a larger whole (your body) and not as something self-contained. 

If you're in my dental chair, don’t look baffled when I start talking about the condition of your tongue. As a holistic dentist, I look beyond the gaps and tartar alone. For me, your tongue is also an important source of information.

What your tongue tells you about your health

How people look at the tongue in the Eastern world differs greatly from how people look at the tongue in the Western world:

  • As a Western dentist, I have learned to pay attention to signs of sickness. For example, fungal infections or malignant spots.
  • In the Eastern world, it is thought that your tongue provides information about the condition of your entire body.

What to look for in a Chinese tongue diagnosis?

In Chinese medicine, certain parts of the tongue correlate with specific organs. The tip of your tongue represents your heart. Just behind the heart zone, you will find the lungs zone. On the side of your tongue, you can see the energy of your liver and gall bladder. The middle of the tongue corresponds to the spleen and stomach. At the back of the tongue, you’ll find the zones that correspond to the kidneys, bladder and intestines.

To make a good diagnosis, it is important that the tongue has not been polished or scratched that day. It is also important that two hours before the diagnosis you do not eat and/or drink (liquorice, coffee, red wine, etc.). When we observe a tongue, we can take note of four things: colour, shape, humidity and fitting.

For example, when a tongue lies limp in the mouth, it means that there is too little Qi (life energy) to keep the muscles and blood together. The layer on your tongue (plaque) largely reflects the condition of your digestive organs, your stomach in particular.

Tongue map

How do you do remove plaque from your tongue?

According to Ayurveda, cleaning your tongue may be as important as brushing your teeth. When you get out of bed in the morning, check your tongue instead of your Facebook account. Is your tongue pretty pink with no coating? Good job! You don't need to do anything. If there is a layer of plaque on your tongue, you can scrape it off. Use a stainless steel scraper for this.

By scraping you remove bacteria that have accumulated on your tongue during the night. Start from back to front and repeat 5-10 times. Only drink water afterwards, otherwise the bacteria that your body loses through your tongue will just find their way back into your stomach.

What is the purpose of tongue scraping?

Tongue scraping is often done by people who suffer from a dirty taste and/or odour in their mouth. This can be caused by bacteria and fungi that have accumulated on the tongue. Scraping your tongue can temporarily remove the fungi and bacteria, but you will not solve the underlying problem. Often, the intestinal tract is to blame.

You can view your mouth as the beginning of your digestive system. If your digestive system works well, your tongue is pink and it will have a little bit of fat instead of a thick, greasy layer.

Interested in holistic dentistry? Please contact Tandartspraktijk de Liefde via 020 614 00 53 or [email protected]. Visit the website for more information.

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Maartje Damen-Brands


Maartje Damen-Brands

Graduated at ACTA at the beginning of 2009. Started working as a general dentist in Bussum in addition to teaching at the department of pediatric dentistry until early 2010. Besides general...

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