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My tongue is furry

2 months ago

When bacteria or fungi get onto your tongue, dead cells get trapped between the small nodules on the tongue. These dead cells appear as white or pale yellow film that coats your tongue, hence making it look as if your tongue is freakishly furry. This is only temporary, so don’t panic. Typically, a coated tongue is not a serious problem. You can try to lessen it by drinking lots of water and brushing your tongue gently with a tongue scraper.

There are some cases though, where a coated tongue is an indication of an infection or a more serious problem. You can consult your general practitioner (GP) or general dentist if you experience the following: you are worried about the changes in appearance of your tongue, your tongue hurts, and the coated part of your tongue persists for more than two weeks.

If indeed your “furry tongue” is a sign of a more serious problem, it might be due to any of the following causes: leukoplakia, oral lichen planus, oral thrush, or syphilis. You can read further about these causes, but you cannot diagnose yourself. If you suspect that you have any one of these conditions, it’s best to consult your GP. Your GP is the one who can diagnose you correctly. In rare cases, a coated tongue may never return to its normal look and texture, even after effective treatment.

Leukoplakia is a condition wherein too many cells are produced from the mouth’s lining and a protein called keratin is deposited. The result is a white patch in the mouth that sometimes appears on the tongue. It is painless. Leukoplakia occurs when the tongue is irritated. It is also linked with excessive smoking and alcohol consumption.

Oral lichen planus, also called lichen planus of the mouth, is a long-term immune system disorder. It causes white patches and white lacy streaks both in the mouth and the tongue. Mild cases do not need any kind of treatment, just leave them be. Severe cases on the other hand can be improved with an antiseptic mouthwash and steroid sprays. Steroid tablets are another option. Simply dissolve tablets in water and use as a mouth rinse.

Oral thrush is a yeast infection that occurs in the mouth and is caused by fungus. It manifests as sore white plaques and a burning sensation on the tongue. These plaques can appear reddish sometimes and can be scraped off gently with a tongue scraper. These are some cases that can make you vulnerable to oral thrush: diabetes, weak immune system, use of steroid inhalers, recent intake of steroid medication or antibiotics, and wearing dentures.

Syphilis is a bacterial infection one can catch when engaging in sex with someone who is infected. If contracted from having oral sex, syphilis manifests as an ulcer on the tongue, or a small painless sore. This sore or ulcer appears from ten days to as long as three months after one is exposed to infection. The treatment for syphilis is a single dose of penicillin.

Dr Neil Paryani

BDS (Hons.) MJDF RCS (Eng), MClinDent (FRP Lond) FICOI, MSc (Dental Implantology)

Dr Poonam Paryani

BDS (Lond) MJDF RCS (Eng)

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