Symptom Checker: Symptoms & Signs Index
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Whitening of the tongue can occur when there is a buildup of bacteria and debris on the surface of the tongue due to mild dehydration, illness (when there is less use of the tongue for talking or eating), or dryness of the mouth. A whitening of the top layer of the tongue or the presence of white spots or patches on the tongue can also be seen with infection or chronic inflammation of the surface of the tongue. Certain oral infections, notably Candida yeast infections (known as oral thrush), are characterized by a white tongue. Inflammation and whitening of the tongue can also occur due to dryness or environmental irritants such as smoking. Inflammation of the tongue is known as glossitis. Some white patches on the tongue, known as leukoplakia, can be precancerous lesions.
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Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.
Causes of White Tongue
In This ArticleDry Mouth (Xerostomia) Article
- What is dry mouth?
- How common is dry mouth?
- What causes dry mouth?
- What are the signs and symptoms of dry mouth?
- What is the treatment for dry mouth?
- Can dry mouth be prevented?
In This ArticleLeukoplakia Article
- What causes Leukoplakia?
- What are the symptoms?
- How is Leukoplakia diagnosed?
- How is Leukoplakia treated?
In This ArticleLichen Planus Article
- Lichen planus facts
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- What causes lichen planus?
- How is the rash of lichen planus different from that of most other common rashes?
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In This ArticleSmoking (How to Quit Smoking) Article
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- What problems are caused by smoking?
- What is addictive disease and why is smoking considered addictive?
- What are the signs of cigarette addiction?
- Why should someone quit smoking?
- What are the steps in quitting?
- Getting ready to quit smoking
- On the day you quit smoking
- Staying quit
- What methods can help a person quit smoking?
- Behavioral modification and self-help literature to quit smoking
- Nicotine replacement therapy to quit smoking
- What prescription products are available for smoking cessation?
- How are nicotine-containing products used safely?
- What is in the future for smoking?
In This ArticleThrush and Other Yeast Infections in Children Article
- What are yeast infections?
- Why do yeast sometimes cause symptoms?
- How do babies get yeast infections?
- What is oral thrush? What are symptoms of oral thrush?
- How do children (and adults) acquire thrush?
- How does yeast affect diaper rash?
- Can thumb sucking cause problems with yeast?
- Can a nursing mother acquire yeast infections from her infant?
- How are thrush and other yeast infections treated?
- Should a child with yeast infection be kept out of child care?
- Are there other names for yeast infection?
Other Causes of White Tongue
- Geographic Tongue
- Prolonged Mouth Breathing
Examples of Medications for White Tongue
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