Why Do I Have Spots on My Tongue?

October 26, 2019
Red-haired young woman with her eyes closed sticks her tongue out while wearing a white beanie
Photo by Derick Santos from Pexels

If you have spots on your tongue, you may be wondering what’s going on. Here, we’ll explain a few potential reasons why you might have spots on your tongue.

1. Canker Sores

If you see a white spot that is surrounded by an inflamed-looking red ring, chances are good that it is a canker sore. These mouth ulcers can show up on their own or with some friends anywhere inside the mouth, including the tongue. They vary in size, duration, and pain level. Depending on its severity, we may be able to treat your cancer sore with laser dentistry. Although much of their etiology is unknown, canker sores can be caused by bacteria, viruses, an acidic diet, an autoimmune disorder, and certain medications. Other factors that may make you more susceptible to canker sores include allergies, stress, smoking, and nutritional deficiencies.

2. Oral Thrush

White, creamy-looking lesions on your tongue indicate oral thrush, an overgrowth of a naturally-occurring fungus called Candida albicans in your mouth. You’ll often temporarily lose your sense of taste and feel like you have a dry mouth. Treatment involves antifungal medication and consuming unsweetened yogurt. Oral thrush often pops up when the immune system is immature or depressed. High-risk individuals include babies, denture wearers, smokers, and patients with anemia, diabetes, chronic dry mouth, and immune-compromising diseases.

3. Leukoplakia

Leukoplakia are thick, hardened patches of white or gray on the tongue that commonly occur due to chewing tobacco, smoking, and drinking alcohol. Stopping these activities may clear up the patches, but sometimes other intervention is needed, particularly if the patches are deemed pre-cancerous. The Epstein-Barr virus can also cause fuzzy white patches of oral hairy leukoplakia.

4. Tongue Cancer

Dark patches on the tongue could be a sign of cancer. The spots could also show up as scabs or sores that don’t heal. Other red flags for tongue cancer include swelling, lumps, and difficulty swallowing. At your routine checkups, we screen for oral cancer because the sooner it can be treated, the better the prognosis.

Schedule a Dental Checkup in Katy, TX

Let us know if you suspect any of these conditions or notice other abnormal changes in your oral health. We can determine what the spots are and the best course of treatment. Call us as soon as possible to make an appointment!