Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can you get a disease on your tongue?"
My tongue looks funny. Like the top is kind of white and patchy. Can you get a disease on your tongue? What kind? Should a doctor help me or a dentist?
Yes, there are many diseases that you can get that can affect your tongue. While a dentist may be able to help you to diagnose what the condition is, most diseases of the tongue are actually treated by doctors known as ear-nose-and throat surgeons, or ENTs (we are also known as otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons). Depending on your age and your history of exposure to things that are well known to damage the mucosa of your mouth (such as tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs), the patchy spots that you are seeing can be many different things. Generally, white patches inside of the mouth are known as leukoplakia, and are a sign of some sort of inflammation. Just as with the skin, there are many possible causes, and some of these require a biopsy to determine what exactly is causing the changes. A detailed history of how long the spots have been present and when they started is also important. Lichen planus is a somewhat rare condition that can cause some white patchiness in the mouth. Other, more common, causes include reactions to denture glue or other things that you commonly place in your mouth (your dentist can be especially helpful with these, of course). Please speak to a health professional soon to diagnose and treat your condition.
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