Your tongue is naturally covered in spots. However, because this area of the mouth doesn’t look like any other part of your body, it can be difficult to tell if the spots are normal. If you’re unsure, here's what you need to know before seeing a dentist.
A healthy tongue has hundreds of natural bumps called papillae. Filiform papillae are there to help the tongue grip food and improve its sense of touch. Others contain taste buds. There are four different types of papillae located on different areas of the tongue, and each has slightly different shapes, with the ones in the back being larger. These are natural and normal.
If a spot on your tongue is hurting or looks different than usual, there are several possible causes. When one of your papillae gets injured or infected, it swells into what's called a lie bump. It should go away within a week.
Tongue injuries such as blisters or canker sores are also nothing to worry about if they go away quickly on their own; just be careful not to irritate them during your dental hygiene routine. If you have a sore or lesion that lasts for more than a week, see a dentist for a screening to identify the cause.
If your tongue is red and has many bumps, you may have scarlet fever, in which case you’ll need antibiotics. If you notice white patches and an unpleasant taste, you likely have a yeast infection, also called thrush. Finally, allergic reactions can cause red, swollen patches on the tongue.
If you're worried about tongue spots and need to see a dentist, contact Ronald B. Potthoff, DDS, PC in Kalispell, MT. Serving the Greater Flathead Valley, he has over 23 years of experience in dental care and focuses on advanced restorative dentistry, offering crowns and veneers. To schedule an appointment with a dentist or learn more about the practice, call (406) 755-5280.