White Spots on Tongue

White spots on tongue could just be the accumulation of food particles, dead cells and debris because of poor oral hygiene, dehydration, smoking and extreme alcohol intake. This type of tongue discoloration may also be an indication of injury to the tongue, simple infections, or worst, cancer. Because of the wide array of causes, consultation with the doctor is recommended when white spots on tongue appear such that the root cause is determined and the treatment be commenced immediately.

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Causes of White Spots on Tongue

The following are some of the common causes of white spots on tongue.

• Oral Thrush – Termed as Candidiasis, this is a yeast infection that causes white spots on the mouth and white coating on the tongue. Although anybody at any age can acquire Candidiasis, it is most common in babies and young children due to the milk deposits left on the tongue which encourages the growth of yeast.

• Strep throat – A Streptococcus Pyogenes bacterial infection, this may appear as small white spots on tongue or red dots on pale tongue.

• Certain habits and activities such as too much intake of alcohol, smoking, extended use of certain drugs like antibiotics, steroidal inhalers, and immunosuppressing medications may cause inflammation of the papillae of the tongue leading to white spots.

• Mild dehydration and dry mouth result to tongue problems with white marks on tongue.

• Trauma to the tongue like bites, blisters, burns, canker sores, dentures and dental appliances, cuts, and the like may cause white tongue.

• Endocrine disorders, anemia, vitamin deficiency, stress, spicy and acidic foods could exacerbate white spots on tongue.

White spots on tongue may be caused by some serious conditions as well.

• Oral lichen planus – This inflammatory mouth condition manifests itself as lace-like pattern on cheeks and tongue. It’s related to improper oral hygiene, smoking of tobacco and irritants.

• Geographical tongue – Though harmless, this may result to heightened sensitivity to certain materials.

• Leukoplakia – This appears as thick, white spots on the tongue and is considered benign. But if raised red lesions are present, it could be an indication of cancer.

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• Oral Cancer – White spots on tongue may also be a sign of cancer. At the onset, the dots may be painless and persistent. Numbness can also be experienced. As the cancer progresses intense pain can be felt.


The treatment for white spots on tongue depends on the underlying cause. For those caused by common conditions, here are some remedies:

• Gargling tea tree oil in water – its antimicrobial property helps get rid of the spots

• Glycerin and sucking on ice cubes – relieve pain and promote healing

• Gargling on saline solution

• Antifungal drugs, yogurt – help treat oral thrush

• Balanced diet that includes apples and papaya, appropriate oral hygiene, keeping hydrated, limiting alcohol intake and avoiding smoking help resolve the condition.

But even with these simple remedies, one should not take this condition lightly as white spots on tongue may give rise to complications or may be indicative of serious illnesses such as cancer. It is hence imperative that medical advice be sought especially if the spots or discoloration is persistent or recurring.

White Spots on Tongue Pictures

Check out these photos of white spots on tongue

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