Glossitis or White Tongue

Mouth | Odontologie | Glossitis or White Tongue (Symptom)


A white tongue is white discoloration of all or a part of the tongue, an organ that is composed mainly of muscle. The tongue may look like it has a white coating or white patches or spots, and may or may not be painful.


Generally, the occasional white tongue, especially when the whole tongue is white (not white in spots or patches), is due to minor inflammation of papillae, the tiny bumps that coat your tongue. These can, like skin cells, collect things like white blood cells, bits of bacteria and the like and as a result, look swollen and white in colour. This condition can be caused by poor oral hygiene, excessive alcohol use, dehydration or may be chronic for smokers.

A tongue that looks white in patches may indicate another condition, thrush, a type of oral yeast infection. This may be caused if you have recently taken antibiotics, and it’s not uncommon in infants and the elderly. People with diabetes may be more prone to thrush, and some oral inhalants for asthma can also result in the condition.

Another condition of leukoplakia, causes white patches on the tongue. This condition occurs often in people who smoke or use tobacco products, and it should definitely indicate a trip to the doctor, since it can be viewed as a potential precursor to oral cancer. This is not always the case, and the condition may resolve if tobacco-using behaviours end. A white tongue can also be a symptom of a variety of other disorders and diseases, including infection, inflammation, trauma, malignancy (cancer), and other abnormal processes.


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