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Why white plaque appears on tongue and when to visit doctor

Why white plaque appears on tongue and when to visit doctor What a white plaque on the tongue indicates (photo: Freepik)

People usually notice a white plaque on the tongue in the morning while brushing their teeth. The reasons for its appearance are numerous, and it is not always a serious symptom. However, under certain circumstances, it is recommended to consult a doctor, tells gastroenterologist Yevheniia Belinska on her Instagram.

What a white plaque on the tongue can indicate

"Normally, we can consider a tongue of pale pink color with a slight white or yellowish coating as normal, which is most noticeable in the morning. During the night, when we sleep, less saliva is produced, resulting in less lysozyme in the oral cavity. Lysozyme is a component of saliva that has an antibacterial effect, and microorganisms in the oral cavity have a greater chance of growth. This is how a plaque appears," explains the doctor.

Belinska explains that a plaque on the tongue may appear during the intake of certain medications, such as bismuth preparations, liquid or tablet forms of iron supplements, and antibiotics. In these cases, the color may vary from white to yellow and even dark brown.

White plaque can appear in the following cases:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Dehydration
  • Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
  • Nasal breathing disorders and, as a result, mouth breathing
  • Consumption of soft or mashed food (such food does not help to remove dead cells from the surface of the tongue)
  • Mechanical irritation (dental procedures, wearing braces, crowns)
  • Fever
  • Immunosuppressive and oncological diseases
  • Leukoplakia of the tongue
  • Oral candidiasis
  • Inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and other organs and systems

When to visit a doctor for white plaque on the tongue:

  • The plaque is massive and cannot be cleaned
  • Presence of pain or a burning sensation/swelling of the tongue
  • Complaints from other organs and systems