BY Racheal Ninsiima

“Laugh, you’re on Candid Camera,” the camera man says when trying to get the best of his shot out of you. This time it is not smiling but laughing. But when picture is presented, there is something dodgy about it.
One of the posers has a spotted tongue and the other, a patched tongue. Oh! they do not even want to pay for the snaps because they feel these obstacles have injured their otherwise good looks.
A healthy tongue should appear pinkish or slightly reddish. It is covered by pore-like nodules that are responsible for taste. When you see red, white or dark spots  or when you feel some pain as your tongue touches your teeth or gum, then know that your tongue is sick. The dark spots on the tongue are either black or brown in colour and appear on the upper or lower surfaces of the tongue.“Most of the spots on the tongue are genetical while others are caused by vitamin deficiency and hormonal changes. They can also appear, as a result of fungal growth and infection on the tongue,” Dr. Michael Awubwa, the head of the Ear, Nose and Throat Department, Mulago Hospital says.
Tongue piercing may subject the tongue to growth of fungus. The healed piercing (with the jewelry removed), also leaves behind dark spots on the tongue.
Dr.Awubwa adds that this problem is more prevalent in women especially during ovulation, pregnancy or while on pills. Although small bumps on both sides of the tongue are usually harmless, a bump on only one side may be cancerous. Unexplained red or white areas, sores, or lumps (particularly when hard) on the tongue may be signs of cancer and should be examined by a doctor or dentist.
A black spot on the tongue are common in people  but has no effect on ones taste. A patched tongue is characterized by discolored regions of taste buds or sometimes even cracks in the tongue that are painful when chewing food. This is especially so after eating pineapples, this is because “Pineapples contain a proteolytic enzyme called bromelain, which eats away the skin after causing a burning effect,” Dr. Sam Okware, Director General Uganda National Health Research organization says.
However, this condition is not permanent as the tongue will always regenerate the damaged cells. Dr.Okware says that this condition is mainly prevalent in people who eat almost raw pineapples and those who eat the pineapple when black spikes are still present in the pineapple.
He is however quick to note that the patching may become permanent when one is allergic to pineapples.
Dr. Paul Nyende, a psychology expert at the Institute of Psychology at Makerere University says that there is no relationship of the physical conditions of one’s tongue to his or her personality. This is because of the popular belief that people with black spots on their tongues are quarrelsome.
To overcome black spots, it is very essential that you keep your tongue clean and maintain oral hygiene.
“As you brush your teeth every day, try remembering to use a tongue cleaner. Maintaining hygiene is the safest way to keep black spots at bay,” Dr.Awubwa said.
It is also advisable to avoid tongue piercing and approach a dentist or physician when one starts to get them.