Symptom: White tongue

    White tongue is a coating of debris, bacteria and dead cells on your tongue that makes it look white. Although the appearance of white tongue may be alarming, the condition is usually harmless and temporary. However, white tongue can be an indication of some serious conditions, ranging from infection to a precancerous condition.

    If you're concerned about a white coating or white spots on your tongue, contact your doctor or dentist.

    White tongue

    Causes of papillae hypertrophy or inflammation include, for example:

    1. Poor oral hygiene
    2. Dry mouth
    3. Dehydration
    4. Smoking or other oral tobacco use
    5. Alcohol use
    6. Mouth breathing
    7. Low roughage diet — eating mostly soft or mashed foods
    8. Mechanical irritation from sharp tooth edges or dental appliances
    9. Fever

    Examples of conditions associated with white patches or other discolorations of your tongue include:

    1. Use of certain medications, such as prolonged use of antibiotics that may bring on an oral yeast infection
    2. Oral thrush
    3. Geographic tongue
    4. Leukoplakia
    5. Oral lichen planus
    6. Mouth cancer
    7. Tongue cancer
    8. Syphilis
    9. HIV/AIDS

    Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.


    Make an appointment with your doctor or dentist if: 

    • You're concerned about changes in your tongue
    • Your tongue hurts
    • Your white tongue persists for longer than a few weeks


    Health Services in

    Signs and Symptoms

    Cancer Health Center an online symptom search and symptom directory. Here you can find what is the symptom White tongue and what does it mean, you can also check what illnesses and diseases this symptom relates to.