Unusual Tongue Appearance

There are multiple circumstances under which your tongue may look unusual. If you are concerned about the color of your tongue, discomfort, a burning sensation, or loss of taste, call Dr. Jay Lopez, so he can evaluate your health history, assess possible causes, and discuss treatment options that may be available.

Papillae (often called “taste buds”) can become stained from coffee, tea, colored soda, or bacteria. The cause is unknown, but it is usually seen during antibiotic use, in smokers, in persons using stomach antacids, or in hospitalized and/or debilitated patients. Usually it is asymptomatic but may produce bad breath or cause a burning sensation.

“It’s not uncommon for the papillae of the tongue to appear white or pale yellow when someone has a head cold or other virus that has made the mouth susceptible to certain types of bacteria,” says Dr. Lopez. “This is a temporary condition. White lines on the papillae may be the result of irritating foods and beverages. The body usually takes care of these discolorations on its own. But, then, there are conditions that can advance, such as oral thrush (candidiasis or “yeast infection”) that we should diagnosis, talk about, and treat.”

If you are concerned about the appearance of your tongue or if you are experiencing tongue discomfort that is not easily explained, schedule an appointment to be examined. Many conditions require no treatment, but other problems of the tongue — or dry mouth can be treated.