There are a number of things that can cause a whitish coating or white spots to develop on the tongue, including the following:
- Leukoplakia. This condition causes cells in the mouth to grow excessively. That, in turn, leads to the formation of white patches inside the mouth, including on the tongue. Although not dangerous on its own, leukoplakia can be a precursor to cancer. So it is important for your dentist to determine the cause of the white patches on your tongue. Leukoplakia can develop when your tongue has been irritated and is often found in people who use tobacco products.
- Oral thrush. Also known as candidiasis, oral thrush is a yeast infection that develops inside the mouth. The condition results in the formation of white patches that are often cottage cheese-like in consistency on the surfaces of the mouth and tongue. Oral thrush is most commonly seen in infants and the elderly, especially denture wearers, or in people with compromised immune systems. People with diabetes and people taking inhaled steroids for asthma or lung disease also can get thrush. Oral thrush is more likely to occur after the use of antibiotics, which may kill the "good" bacteria in the mouth. Eating plain yogurt with live and active cultures may help restore the proper fauna in your mouth. Additionally, medications may be used to combat the infection.
- Oral lichen planus. If you have a network of raised white lines on your tongue that has a lace-like appearance, you may be suffering from oral lichen planus. Doctors are often unable to determine the cause of this condition, which often resolves on its own. Practicing proper dental hygiene, avoiding tobacco, and limiting your consumption of foods that cause irritation to your mouth may helpful.
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