White Spots on Tongue: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Home remedies

White spots can be seen on tongue which causes discomfort and sometimes it may be painful. Usually these spots can be seen in tongue after brushing teeth. It may be uncomfortable but in most of the cases it is not much serious. Sometimes, only one white spot may occur and it may be large or small and sometimes it may be more in number. Generally white spots can go away without any treatment. But it is worth checking with doctor if it is more painful because it may be a symptom of any underlying serious problem. So it is better to check with doctor at the earlier stage.

White spots under tongue

White spots may also occur under tongue as tiny sores or ulcers. This often cause inflammation. This will be more painful and make it difficult to chew or swallow food.

White spots on tip of tongue

White spot sometimes occur at the tip of the tongue or at the sides which are not that much painful but they may cause irritation. This may arise due to biting of tongue or due to the sharp objects that causes physical injuries to the mouth. Sometimes this may even occur if we brush our teeth with a hard tooth brush. It is often not harmful but it can be a sign of fungal attack and the patient need to go for a doctor check up.

White spot at the back of tongue

White spots can occur at the back of the tongue. The sizes may vary depending on the causes. Mostly this occurs as small bumps called papillae which are not easily visible. Papillae will be visible only when it causes irritation by cold or throat infections. Spicy, acidic or salty food can irritate papillae which creates white spots on tongue.

Causes for White spot on tongue

There is a traditional myth that white spots occurs as a result of taking white meals. But it is scientifically not proven yet. The cause that remains with the white spot are as follows.

  1.  Oral thrush
  2. Canker sores
  3. Leukoplakia
  4. Oral lichen planus

Oral Thrush:

Oral thrush is also called as candidiasis. When the immune system gets depressed, an overgrowth of naturally occurring fungus arises which causes oral thrush. Patients with cancer, HIV, babies, smokers, anaemia, diabetes patients, dry mouth sufferers and immune-compromising conditions are at high risk of Oral Thrush infection. Antibiotics may also trigger this condition. This is rarely serious, but long term infection require treatment. Scraping the white spots removes white coating, but often causes slight bleeding.

Canker sores

White spot on tongue that is surrounded by red coloured halo is often called as canker sores. The lesions may grow small or large. Sometimes it may be recurring. Unlike Oral Thrush, canker sores are mostly painful and even scraping does not remove it. It is not a contagious infection.


This condition usually occurs on the gums, bottom of the mouth or inside the cheeks as white or grey spots. Sometimes this may occur on the tongue as well. Scraping does not help in removing the white spots. Having Leukoplakia without pain is not that much harmful. But it may be an indicator of cancer. According to Oral Cancer Foundation, 75% of smokeless tobacco users are having this Leukoplakia. This may sometimes lead to risk of developing oral cancer. White coloured patches that appear as ridges or folds on the sides of the tongue causes Hairy leukoplakia. These patches occurs due to the infection caused by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).

Oral lichen planus

Raised white lines on tongue appear as a result of oral lichen planus. This occurs due to smoking, alcohol drinking and usage of tobacco.

Causes for white spots on tongue

The common causes for this disease includes

  • Smoking
  • Chewing tobacco and
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Trauma
  • Stress
  • Allergies
  • Iron and vitamin deficiencies
  • Fluctuations in hormones
  • Usage of tobacco
  • Nutrition deficiency

Symptoms for White spots on tongue

The common symptoms for white spots on tongue are as follows:

  • White coloured cracked corners of mouth and lips
  • White colored lesions
  • White areas in other parts of mouth
  • Dry mouth
  • Unable to taste the food.
  • Painful white discoloration on tongue.
  • Unable to eat or swallow food properly


Diagnosis for white spots on tongue

When the white spots persists for more than a week, then consulting with doctor is necessary. Some cases like oral thrush may go on its own, but its always good to check with a doctor for consultation to avoid future risks. Most of the cases may be benign but some cases may contain precancerous or cancerous cells. So it is necessary to check with doctor if the problem is severe. A biopsy may be helpful to determine the cause and treatment will be given according to the severity.

Preventive measures for white spots on tongue

To get rid of these white spots, it’s advisable to brush the teeth twice with fluoride tooth paste. Even though this not that much harmful, this may be a sign of some serious problems. It is better to check with a doctor if the white spots recurs in tongue.

Home remedies for white spots on tongue

1. Practise good dental hygiene.
2. Do Regular brush and floss.
3. Go for Regular dental checkups.
4. Avoid taking more hot and spicy foods
5. Take cold beverages and soft foods till the sore gets healed.
6. Try OTC Oral pain treatments
7. Rinsing mouth with warm salt water or with a mixture of baking soda and warm water will give better recovery.
8. Applying ice on the affected area can also reduce the pain.

9. Salt can be used as a natural home remedy for white spots on tongue. Salt solution has antiseptic property which removes bacteria and gives fresh breath. It also helps to remove debris and dead cells on tongue. Sprinkle small amount of salt on your tongue and brush your tongue gently. Repeat this twice a day for better results. Alternatively one can use salt solution for gargling mouth to get rid of these white spots.

10. Vegetable glycerine can be used to treat the white spots if the problem is due to dry mouth. Apply small amount of glycerine on your tongue and brush it gently. Repeat this treatment twice a day for the desired results.

11. Baking soda can used as a home remedy which can exfoliate the tongue and remove any debris on it. It is also used to maintain ph level of the tongue. Moreover baking soda kills the bacteria that causes white spots on tongue. Make a paste of baking soda with few drops of lemon juice and apply it on the white spots. Brush it gently and repeat this twice a day for the better results.

12. Aloe Vera has very good antibacterial, anti inflammatory and anti fungal properties which helps in removing food debris, white coating and white spots on the tongue. Apply the gel of aloe Vera on your mouth and swish it. Do this treatment two times a day for removing white spots.


Medical treatment for white spots on tongue:

If the natural treatment does not work, then consulting with a doctor is necessary. Doctor might test your tongue to find the exact cause. Oral sample and sputum will be taken for this test. Once the test is done, the treatment takes place based on the type of infection. If it is due to fungal, bacterial or viral infection and if it is severe, then the doctor may prescribe amitriptyline and amisulpride medication. Other drugs suggested by the doctors includes acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin. For cancerous condition the doctor may suggest a suitable cancer therapy treatment.

Anukriti Srivastava

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