What other symptoms might occur with a white tongue?

A white tongue may occur with other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Common symptoms include:  

  • Bad breath

  • Burning sensation

  • Change in texture such as a smooth tongue

  • Difficulty chewing

  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Excessive salivation

  • Flu-like symptoms (fatigue, fever, sore throat, headache, cough, aches and pains)

  • Loss of appetite

  • Oral rash, blisters, ulcers or sores

  • Pain

  • Swollen, enlarged or bloated tongue

  • Swollen gums

  • Swollen tonsils

  • Vomiting

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, a white tongue can indicate a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms:

  • Bluish coloration of the lips or fingernails

  • Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness

  • Coughing up blood

  • Difficulty breathing, wheezing or shortness of breath

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • Sudden swelling of the face, lips or tongue

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Tongue redness and warmth


What is a white tongue?

A white tongue is white discoloration of all or a part of the tongue, an organ that is composed mainly of muscle. Your tongue may look like it has a white coating or white patches or spots, and may or may not be painful.

A white tongue may be caused by a coating of dead cells and debris, which can accumulate due to poor oral hygiene, excessive alcohol use, smoking, or dehydration... Read more about white tongueintroduction


What causes a white tongue?

In many cases, a white coating on the tongue is caused by a layer of dead skin cells and debris that can be cleaned or scraped off the tongue. Some common conditions that lead to a visible white layer include dehydration, poor oral hygiene, excessive alcohol use, and smoking tobacco. A white tongue can also be a symptom of a variety of other disorders and diseases, such as a bacterial infection... Read more about white tonguecauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 30, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mouth, Teeth and Oral Health