What causes white spots on tongue? Are the white bumps and patches painful? Get more insights on the causes of white stuff on your tongue, symptoms, treatment and how to get rid of a sore painful tongue fast.
Tongue is formed with a combination of muscles that coordinate to help in tasting food, swallow and talk. Human tongue is regarded as the strongest muscle in the body due to the important roles it plays on a daily basis.
It is quite unfortunate that your tongue can experience problem that can cause you pain, discomfort and worry. Soreness, pain, infections and discoloration are some of the main problems that can affect the normal functioning of the tongue.
It is however fortunate to note that most of the tongue conditions usually disappears on own and symptoms may not last longer. There are only few cases that may take longer to heal and hence leading to more complications. Examples include oral cancer, AIDS and lack of important minerals and vitamins.
The doctors should however be on alert if you are suspecting of a serious underlying medical condition that causes your tongue a problem. One of the main and frequent occurrence across people of all ages is the white patches, spots or bumps on the tip, surface or sides of the tongue.
What Cause White Spots on Tongue?
A number of conditions causes a white tongue that is characterized by spots, bumps or patches. The surface may also be completely covered by a white stuff. They are sometimes characterized by soreness and pain. Some of the factors include the following:
This is a condition that causes excessive growth of cells in the mouth hence leading to the formation of white patches in the mouth, on the lips, gums, tongue, inside cheeks and on the floor or roof of the mouth.
What causes leukoplakia?
There are is no specific medical test for this condition but experts have established some of the main factors that can increase the chances of as follows:
- Persistent candida infections can lead to candida leukoplakia.
- Heavy tobacco smoking and regular consumption of alcohol.
- Frictional keratosis due to misaligned teeth, regular tongue or cheek biting and ill fitted dentures.
- Deficiency of vitamins in the body especially A or B.
- Presence of other conditions such as oral thrush or oral lichen planus.
- Too much sun exposure to the lips.
- Oral cancer, HIV or AIDS.
- Hairy leukoplakia is mainly caused by viral infection (Epstein – Barr virus).
Symptoms of Leukoplakia
White spots on tongue and patches in the mouth are main symptom of this condition. It may also be hard to rule out if there are symptoms since they don’t usually affect a person’s way of living. It is therefore important to conduct your dentist or doctor for checkup that will enable treatment.
Grey colored patches on the gums and roof of the mouth is also a symptom. These patches develop slowly from weeks to month after which they eventually form a slightly raised rough and hardened texture. In is normally without pain but may feel sensitive to touch, heat and spicy foods among others.
How to Treat Leukoplakia
This condition doesn’t cause permanent damage to tissues in the mouth although it can easily lead to a more serious mouth and tongue problem such as oral cancer. Therefore it should appropriately be examined and treated. The dentist will carry out diagnosis and may recommend biopsy a test that rules out other causes such as oral cancer. During biopsy, there is removal of a small piece of the tissue from the lesion and examined in the lab.
Here are the best ways on how to get rid of leukoplakia:
- Stop regular consumption of alcohol and avoid heavy smoking or chewing of tobacco since they are the main causes.
- Surgical removal of the lesion by the dentist or oral surgeon especially for patients who are likely to develop oral cancer.
- A diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables may help in improving the immune system to fight the cases.
2. Oral Thrush (Candidiasis)
This is a fungal infection of the mouth caused by a group of yeasts called Candida. It is not contagious and can successfully be diagnosed and treated by antifungal medications. The condition is more common in infants although adults are also at risk.
What Causes Oral Thrush
Naturally, there are low numbers of candida fungus in the mouth and digestive system of most human beings. They cause no problem except only when they multiply and increase in numbers due to the following factors:
- Use of antibiotics for a longer period or at high dose.
- Generally poor oral hygiene.
- Chemotherapy, or radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer.
- Using inhaled corticosteroid medication especially for asthma.
- Dry mouth due to underlying medical condition or due to medicines you are taking.
- Poorly fitted dentures.
- Underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, iron deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, HIV and underactive thyroid among others.
How to Treat Oral Thrush
Oral thrush can successfully be treated with antifungal medicines in form of gels, capsules and tablets. While using tropical medication, regular use on daily basis is recommendable.
There are possibilities of side effects while using such medication. This include nausea, bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and bloating.
Antibiotics or corticosteroids use may also lead to oral thrush and for such a case, a different administration method may be preferable as well as reduction on the dose.
Symptoms of Oral Thrush
- Creamy white lesions on tongue or inner cheeks.
- White patches in the mouth.
- Red spots on the tongue.
- White spots on tongue, tonsil and inside cheeks.
- Painful irritating and burning sensation in the mouth.
- Cracks at the corners of your mouth.
- Lack of appetite and bad taste in the mouth.
- Difficult in eating, drinking and swallowing especially in babies.
How to Prevent Oral Thrush
You can prevent oral thrush through different ways among them include the following:
- Rinse you mouth after every meal.
- Using fluoride toothpaste to brush at least twice a day.
- Clean the gums, tongue and inside the mouth by brushing with a soft brush at least twice a day.
- Regularly visit a dentist for check-ups and if your dentures are not properly fitting.
- Remove and clean your dentures every night. Use soap or paste and water to clean before placing them in a provided solution of water and denture cleaning tablets.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water and spit it out after using a spacer and corticosteroid inhaler.
- Get treatment of any underlying medical condition.
3. Oral Lichen Planus
This is an inflammatory condition that affects the underlying mucous membranes in the mouth. It is characterized by white spots on tongue, red patches, swollen painful tissues and sore throats. Symptoms causes pain, burning sensation and discomfort in the mouth and throat.
It is caused by an attack by the immune system against oral mucous membrane cells for unknown reasons. It is however a contagious disorder that can lead to moth cancer. It therefore requires regular monitoring by the dentist or a specialist.
Oral lichen planus can also affect other parts of the body such as the skin, which appears with purplish, itchy bumps. Genitals which are characterized by pain or burning discomfort. It can also affect ears leading to the loss of hearing, scalp, nails, eyes and esophagus among other organs of the body.
What Causes Oral Lichen Planus
The main causes of this inflammatory disorder is not known although there are some factors that researchers have claimed to be the reasons. They include the following:
- Hepatitis C and other liver infections.
- Hepatitis B vaccine.
- Allergic substances such as foods and dental materials among other irritants.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen and naproxen derivatives among others (NSAIDs).
- Some types of medicines for heart conditions, high blood pressure or arthritis.
- Underlying medical conditions that affect the immune system.
- People with some types of genes are at high risk.
- Most affected people are middle aged women according to statistics.
Symptoms of Oral lichen planus
Mucus membranes are the main target of this disorder and it is characterized by the following signs.
- White raised patches and lesions on the affected tissues.
- Lesions and open sores on gums, inside cheeks, tongue, palate, inside lips and roof of the mouth.
- Open sores and inflamed red lesions causes pain and a burning sensation.
- Blunted taste in the mouth especially when the tongue is affected.
- Inflammation of the gums.
- Bleeding and irritated gums when brushing.
When to See a Doctor
You should see a doctor if:
- There are sores in the mouth which doesn’t respond to antibiotics and does not heal.
- Severe white or red spots and patches in the mouth.
- Frequent bleeding in the mouth especially when you are brushing.
- Change in the appearance and taste in the mouth.
- There is formation of lesions or sores on genitals, nails, skin or scalp.
- You experience inflammation and scarring of the membranes in your mouth.
How to Treat Oral Lichen Planus – Drugs and Medications
Testing and diagnosis of this disorder is important. Several mechanisms are employed for this and among them include screening which helps in detecting cancer, biopsy that involves lab testing of a removed small part of the affected tissues. Cultures that utilizes a cotton swab to obtain samples, blood and allergy testing are all involved.
Treatment will however follow after the examination and it include the following:
- Treatment of the symptoms may involve the use of topical numbing agents such as corticosteroids that reduce inflammation. They are used in form of ointment, injection or mouthwash solution depending on the side effects.
- Retinoids may be used in the treatment of this condition although not commonly used. They are orally taken or by application in form of an ointment. Retinoids have side effects such as irritation of the membranes, birth defects and have to be taken under doctors instructions.
- Use of immune response medicines is also the best alternative.
- Directly dealing with the immediate causes of oral lichen planus can be employed.
Red spots on tongue – Strawberry
The tongue is naturally pink and sometimes there are factors that can turn it to red or strawberry. Here are some of the causes of tiny red spots on tongue.
- Vitamin Deficiency: Lack of sufficient amount of vitamin B-12 and folic acid.
- Geographic tongue: A condition also known as benign migratory glossitis and is characterized by red patches on tongue with white border around it.
- Scarlet fever: This also causes a red or strawberry tongue and the patient should seek urgent medical attention from the doctor.
- Kawasaki syndrome: This is a disease common in children under 5 years of age. It causes red tongue, high fever, redness and swelling of hands and feet. Seek urgent medication.
White bump on tongue, Sores and Pain
Sore, painful and white bumps on the tongue can be caused by a number of factors which include the following:
- Trauma: when you accidentally hurt your tongue it can become sore and painful due to trauma. This mostly happens during teeth grinding and friction while chewing hard food materials.
- Smoking: Excessive smoking not only irritate your tongue but makes it sore and bumpy.
- Underlying medical conditions: These include; diabetes, HIV and anemia which are characterized by sore painful tongue.
- Canker sores: These are mouth ulcers that develop with no reasons and are mainly associated with stress.
- Enlarged papillae: It can be your taste buds which gets irritated, swollen or inflamed.
- Oral cancer: This is a rare mouth condition that can cause sores, pain and bumps. It is nothing to worry about but it is good to check with your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
In general, white spots on tongue can be caused by many and different factors. Check-ups, testing and diagnosis of the mouth by a dentist should be done on regular basis. This not only help in the identification of the causes but also in the establishment of a perfect treatment.
More Sources and References:
- Leukoplakia: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/leukoplakia/basics/definition/con-20023802
- Dental Health and Thrush: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-health-thrush
- Oral thrush in adults: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Oral-thrush—adults/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- Thrush (Oral Candidiasis): http://www.medicinenet.com/thrush/article.htm
- Oral Lichen Planus Treatment & Management: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1078327-treatment
- Tongue Problem Basics: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/tongue-problem-basics-sore-or-discolored-tongue-and-tongue-bumps