White dots, blotches, patches or spots, occurring on tongue, are a rather ambiguous symptom. First of all, they range in appearance. Secondly, some of them cause pain, while others are absolutely painless. Many people mistakenly believe that absence of pain means it’s nothing serious. That’s not so. There are, certainly, quite harmless explanations of these white spots: moderate dehydration or collection of cellular debris and bacteria, to name a few. However, certain precancerous and cancerous conditions may also reveal through a symptom like this. This article is for everyone who has found strange spots on his/her own or child’s tongue and wonders what they may mean. We will look through the most common causes of light blotches on/under tongue in adults and children, give recommendations on how to take care of your tongue and see what tongue coating is considered physiologically normal.
Healthy Coating On Your Tongue
Some people begin to hustle about normal physiological conditions such as the coating on the tongue. Before you start to panic, let’s find out how a healthy tongue should look like. White coating on tongue may occur in absolutely healthy persons. That doesn’t always indicate that the organism has any disorders. However, you may put your worries aside only if the tongue coating is available in a small amount and as a thin layer. Besides, the healthy coating depends on humidity and temperature levels. In summer, for instance, tongue coating can be thicker than in winter. It’s explained by the fact that due to weather changes our organism needs different vitamins. So, tongue coating reminds you of the organism’s needs and is an indicator of its condition.
Partial Tongue Discoloration: Normal Or Abnormal?
How to understand that the coating on your tongue is available specifically in a thin layer? Very simply: if you can see the tongue’s natural color through it. If there’s so much coating that it’s hard to see the tongue itself, don’t even doubt: this is not normal.
White Blotches On Tongue: Why Can They Occur?
- Spots on tongue in smokers. White spots on cheeks’ mucous membrane and tongue can occur due to regular irritation of the mouth mucous membranes, typical for smokers. The spots look a little denser than the surrounding tissues and can be raised over the rest of the surface. Such spots don’t cause any harm but in some cases they may turn into cancerous ones.
- Common cold. There is an opinion that before a person gets sick with a common cold, his tongue gets covered with whitish coating where hardly visible spots and blisters begin to appear.
- Spleen disorders. If spots are located specifically along the left tongue side, they indicate disorders in the spleen function.
- Disorders, affecting digestive tract. A single white spot in the middle of the tongue indicates disorders of the gastrointestinal function.
- Oral candidiasis. White patches on tongue can be often caused by oral candidiasis, triggered after antibiotics therapies, chemotherapy or because of weakened immune system. With candidiasis whenever you try to remove the white coating there are still white sores on tongue remaining.
- Stomatitis. Any structure in the mouth, including gums, cheeks, tongue, lips, throat may get inflamed due to stomatitits. One of the first characteristic signs for this condition is occurrence of sores on tongue, cheeks, lips, palate, etc. They may differ in size: 1-10 mm in diameter. Stomatitis often affects children, even babies.
- Oral lichen planus. Persons with easily agitated nervous system and those infected with hepatitic C, (more often women over 40 y.o.) are susceptible to developing lichen planus. 6 different forms of lichen planus can be diagnosed in mouth cavity with symptoms, ranging from white lace-like stripes to white spots and erosive sores. White spots on tongue, characteristic for lichen planus, usually don’t cause any pain, while erosive sores are accompanied by a burning sensation and may be very painful.
- Leukoplakia. It may start as one white spot on tongue that causes no pain. Later another spot joins up and so on. Leukoplakia belongs to optional precancerous conditions. Local irritants play an important role in its development. The most frequent cause of leukoplakia progression is associated with tobacco smoking, besides, frequency of leukoplakia cases depends on the amount of tobacco people smoke. As for other irritants, passion for too hot or too spicy food, frequent alcohol consumption also may count. There are 5 different types of leukoplakia with different symptoms. The main symptom for leucoplakia plana, for instance, is flat white spots on tongue with inhomogeneous epithelial opacity and quite distinct borders. One or a few spots like this, whitish or greyish in color, localize on the visually otherwise healthy tongue mucous membrane.
- Geographic tongue (Migratory atrophic glossitis). Spots are numerous, smooth, red with white borders, resembling archipelago islands. This is why the condition is named “Geographic tongue”. The disease is diagnosed quite often – in 1-3% of population. Geographic tongue is not associated with malnutrition, it rather has an idiopathic origin. Presumably, psychosomatic causes lay in the basis of this disorder. The symptoms usually disappear by themselves: with time they simply fade out.
- Precancerous condition. If white spots are raised over the surrounding surface and covered with crevices, they can point at a dangerous precancerous condition.
White Spot Under Tongue
- It can be associated with canker sores or mouth ulcers, appearing due to growth of bacteria or viruses in your body or because of nutritional deficiencies.
- This also can be a symptom of brain oxygen deprivation. Diseases, affecting brain vascular system, are very serious, that’s why if you notice a white spot under your child’s tongue, see a doctor as soon as possible.
White Patches On Tongue In Babies
White dots on tongue in babies aren’t a rare condition because oral candidiasis quite often occurs in newborns. Their immunity is still too weak and pathogenic yeasts easily inhabit their mucous membranes. The spots remind cottage cheese and may cover cheeks from the inside, soft palate and tongue. The spots don’t acquire any specific form and locate asymmetrically. Babies, affected by thrush, lose their appetite and may have sleep disorders. If there’s no opportunity to get immediate pediatric consultation, you may prepare soda solution: 1 teaspoon of soda dissolved in 1 l of water. Process the spots twice a day and take your baby to the doctor as soon as possible.
How To Look After Your Tongue?
Certainly, if you’ve discovered any sores on tongue, you must see a doctor immediately. In other other cases tongue hygiene is no less important than something as usual to all of as brushing teeth. The tongue plays a role of a specific filter for food that can block airways. Besides, tongue prevents harmful microorganisms from getting into the digestive tract. So, it needs to be cleaned, otherwise, bacteria will penetrate into your stomach and blood steam with food. Let’s look into some rules.
- Tongue has to be cleaned after brushing teeth but before eating.
- Modern tooth brushes have a special rubber brush for tongue. Use it, it’s not there for a cuter design or something.
- Gargling your mouth with vegetable oil helps in tongue cleaning, who knew? Take a table spoon of oil and gargle it as if you were chewing the oil. When you finish the oil will become white and watery and the tongue will get clear.
So, as you see, our tongue is an indicator of our health. Sometimes changes with the tongue can be detected earlier than other disease symptoms. Tongue surface diagnostics can tell about all person’s disorders, both recent and the old ones. This interesting diagnostics method was used long ago in the Ancient Near East. If you’ve got any strange spots on tongue, visit a doctor to determine the cause. Major preventive measures in this relation include a versatile diet, moderate alcohol consumption and giving up smoking.