You might not give a lot of thought to your tongue, but this little muscle is an important part of your body. It helps you consume food and taste it, and it makes it possible to articulate your speech. Unfortunately, different conditions can cause your tongue to look strange and may even endanger its well-being and cause you pain. Your dentist is here to discuss some of the reasons why you might notice white spots on your tongue and what you can do about them.
Oral thrush, an infection that’s caused by too much Candida yeast, can cause little white patches to appear on your tongue. This condition usually isn’t serious, but it can lead to difficulty swallowing, loss of taste, and the sensation of cotton mouth. It’s most common in people who have compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV, diabetes, or who are using antibiotics.
If you have oral thrush, treatment usually involves antifungal medication from a physician. Once you start treatment, even severe thrush should go away in two weeks or less.
Of course, as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you are at risk for developing oral thrush because you struggle with dry mouth, be sure to drink plenty of water. It’s also important to visit your dentist regularly; they might be able to recommend a mouth rinse that will help to keep your mouth moist.
A caner sore is a painful ulcer on your tongue or in other parts of your mouth. It’s a little white circle surrounded by red, inflamed tissue. Canker sores can be caused by all sorts of things, including spicy foods, stress, hormones, and vitamin deficiencies.
The good news is that minor canker sores usually go away on their own in one to three weeks. More severe sores might take up to six weeks to heal. You can manage the pain and speed up healing with OTC medications.
If you get canker sores often, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor to find out if an underlying medical condition is the reason behind the problem.
Leukoplakia is when white or grayish patches crop up in your mouth. It’s how your mouth reacts to chronic irritation of the mucous membranes inside it, and it’s most common in people who smoke. It isn’t painful, but it does have a small chance of developing into oral cancer, which is why you might want to ask for a biopsy of the leukoplakia. However, in most cases, leukoplakia will begin to heal on its own once the source of the irritation is removed.
How is your tongue looking? It’s normal for it to have a thin white coating, but if there are any strange white spots, it might be time to head to your dentist for a checkup.
About the Dentist
Dr. Rob Schumacher is your friendly, experienced dentist in Lynnfield. Whether it’s time for your next checkup or you have questions about how to care for your tongue, he would be happy to help. You can contact our office at 781-334-3400.