What Causes White Spots on Tongue?

If you may have noticed white spots on your tongue, you are not alone. Everyone experiences white spots on their tongue at some point or the other. Since you use your tongue for so many purposes like tasting and talking, it can be rather uncomfortable when you tongue is covered with a white coating. So, what causes these white spots on the tongue? Here are few possible causes:

Oral thrush

This is actually a yeast infection caused by the yeast Candida albicans. This condition is characterized by creamy white lesions on the tongue and inner cheek. The coating has a cottage cheese like consistency and can make it difficult for you to taste the food you eat. If you try to brush or scrape this coating away, it can cause slight bleeding. This condition can be painful and often the infection spreads to the gums, tonsils or roof of the mouth. Thrush is particularly common in breastfeeding infants and gets passed on from the infant to the nursing mother. Breastfeeding women with Candida infection may experience sore nipples and itchy, flaking skin on the breasts. In such cases, your doctor may prescribe a mild antifungal for your baby and an anti-fungal cream for you. You may also be advised to wash your baby’s pacifiers, feeding bottle nipples and detachable parts of your breast pump in a mild solution of vinegar so as to remove all fungal growth from them. Adults and older children will be advised to take probiotic yogurt or acidophilus capsules. More severe cases may require treatment with antifungal medications which come in cream, tablet, lozenges or liquid form. Maintaining good oral hygiene and rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can help combat thrush.


This is a condition wherein the cells of the tongue multiply and form white patches on the tongue. Unlike thrush, these patches cannot be scraped off. Although the exact cause of this condition is unknown, it is seen more frequently in people who use tobacco. Therefore, it may be associated with irritation and inflammation of the tongue. Leukoplakia is not a dangerous condition, but the growth of cells can sometimes become cancerous. Therefore, it is essential to get it checked by a dentist and removed at the earliest possible time. In most cases, stopping the use of tobacco and alcohol is enough to remedy the condition.

Oral lichen planus

This is characterized by lacy, white patches in the tongue and inside of the mouth. Sometimes, it can affect the lips and gums also. This condition is usually seen in middle aged people. Most cases are chronic and last for years. But lichen planus is manageable. People with mild symptoms do not need medication. The condition resolves itself when the patient cuts down on alcohol and tobacco and maintains good oral hygiene. Severe cases of lichen planus require treatment with corticosteroids, mouth rinses or immunosuppressant medication. People with oral lichen planus are advice to cut down on spicy foods and refrain from getting too stressed, because this condition is often associated with high stress levels.

The cause and cure of those white spots on your tongue can be determined by your doctor after a thorough examination. Some rules like maintaining good oral hygiene and avoiding habits like alcohol and tobacco which irritate the tongue apply for all cases of white spots on the tongue.

1 Comment

  1. Excellent information!

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