White Growth on the Tongue

Updated February 21, 2017

Finding white growths on your tongue can cause confusion, discomfort and emotional distress. The conditions that cause white growths are often not serious and are usually treatable.

Oral Thrush

This condition is essentially a yeast infection inside of your mouth caused by excess candida. This condition is more common in newborn infants as opposed to adults. White lesions will form on the tongue and inner cheeks. Anti-fungal medicines and good hygiene can treat this condition.


Lekuoplakia is caused by excess tongue cell multiplying. It creates sporadic white patches on the tongue. This cause of this condition is unknown, and the patches can become cancerous and should be removed as soon as possible.

Hairy Tongue

Excessively poor oral hygiene can lead to a condition called "hairy tongue." Hairy tongue is characterised by a white or black coating on the surface of the tongue and is also accompanied by very bad breath. Brushing every day and using mouthwash can prevent and treat this condition.

Oral Lichen Planus

Oral lichen planus is a condition in which the immune system attacks your mouth and creates white growths. These white growths can also affect your lips, gums and even your throat and oesophagus. This condition is usually chronic, but treatable by corticosteroids or immunosuppressant medications.

Other Conditions

Some diseases have white growth on the tongue as a symptom. For example, syphilis sufferers will often have a white growth on their tongue. People who are dehydrated will often have a white, sandy tongue, which can look like a growth, but is not.

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About the Author

Eric Benac began writing professionally in 2001. After working as an editor at Alpena Community College in Michigan and receiving his Associate of Journalism, he received a Bachelor of Science in English and a Master of Arts in writing from Northern Michigan University in Marquette.