Mucous membrane of the tongue is covered with papillae over the surface and along the sides, but not under it. Depending on the agent, fur and other blotches can appear on this or that part of the tongue. Thus, white spots under tongue most often indicate to leukokeratosis, which in its turn testifies to distinct immune deficiency. Nevertheless, modern medicine negates the correspondence of localization of the fur to the affection of certain systems. The tongue is not a “guiding map” to the sick organism, it is just one of the target-organs of the pathogenic process.
The surface of the tongue is usually pink and velvety on the back and on the sides. Velvety texture of the mucous membrane is associated with four various types of papillae present on it. They have certain location, each of the groups being placed on its own area of the membrane. However, there are no papillae under the tongue; that is why its lower surface is smooth.
The outer layer cells of papillae are constantly regenerating via regular keratinization and exfoliation. Fur appears in case this process is disturbed. It can locate near the base of the tongue, on its back, on the sides and even on the tip. There can be multiple causes for this condition.
So how does modern medicine explain appearance of spots on various parts of the tongue in case of various diseases?
White spots on back of tongue – an important diagnostic symptom
Since the bulk of papillae is focused on the back of tongue, it is the most common place for the appearance of fur. Besides, this part of the tongue can be affected by vesicles (bubbles), which result from herpes infection or appear as a symptom of simple stomatitis. Fungal blotches (candidamycosis) can also be observed on back of tongue.
Uniform fur, located all over the back of tongue, is one of the distinctive features of inflammation. It can appear on the background of acute respiratory infection, as well as in the aggregate of symptoms of such serious ENT diseases, as tonsillitis or diphtheria (in case of diphtheria, however, the fur has grayish hue). Sometimes, blotches concentrate in the view of the tongue tonsil, without spreading all over the back of tongue.
Besides, white spots on back of tongue accompany diseases of the digestive tract (ulcer, colitis, cholecystitis, pancreatitis). In case of the last 2 pathologies, the fur has more of a yellow coloring. Gastritis can also provoke appearance of spots, specifically benign migratory glossitis type.
In other words, observing a thick fur on tongue, which does not disappear after cleaning the teeth and having a meal, one should consult a gastroenterologist or otolaryngologist – depending on concomitant symptoms (fever and sore throat or digestion problems). Even if there are no other symptoms, you can consult a dentist, to correct any mistakes in oral hygiene, since appearance of fur is often fraught with taste disturbance and bad breath. Thus, in order to eliminate these unpleasant symptoms, one has to maintain proper oral hygiene.
White bumps on sides of tongue and under it – what should one beware of?
We distinguish between two basic causes of white bumps on sides of tongue – trauma-induced and associated with leukokeratosis. Traces of teeth and even erosions, covered with fur, can appear in the result of constant biting of the swollen tongue. This hypertrophy can also have multiple causes:
- Edema (e.g. due to diseases of the gastro-intestinal tract or the endocrine system)
- Infectious inflammation;
- System diseases of connective tissue and oncological pathologies;
- Inherent peculiarities.
Apart from spots on the sides of tongue, its enlargement is accompanied by speech disturbance, snoring, etc. Only a specialist can find out the precise cause of this condition, as well as prescribe adequate treatment, after examining the case in a clinic.
Leukokeratosis is not a very threatening condition by itself, but it most often affects people with significant immune deficiency, for example, HIV positive people. Epstein-Barr virus is considered to be the agent of leukokeratosis, but it is not yet fully defined. Leukokeratosis appears in the form of folds over the surface of tongue or white spots under tongue and over the sides.
The distinctive feature in this case is close adherence of bumps to the base and absence of inflammation, which can be confirmed hystologically. In most cases the course of leukokeratosis is asymptomatic, that is why self-control in oral hygiene is the key to enjoying good heath for as long as possible.
Various tendencies of non-traditional medicine contain a number of representations and even “maps”, which explain the location of white spots on one of the sides of tongue, for example, as a warning about this or that disease. In fact, such a correspondence is rather disputable. Of course, zonality of the tongue is not in any doubt. But the projection of the condition of various systems of the organism to these zones is not confirmed. To prevent the development of aggressive infectious diseases or nonmalignant processes, which are able to regenerate, appearance of any type of white spots on tongue, regardless of their location, should be brought to light as soon as possible, while the treatment should exclusively be trusted to a specialist.