Is Your Tongue Pale? Here Are Its Possible Causes

The tongue turns pale when a white coating forms on it, which is usually harmless. It can either be all over the tongue or just part of it.

Varun Verma
Written by: Varun VermaUpdated at: Feb 28, 2023 15:39 IST
Is Your Tongue Pale? Here Are Its Possible Causes

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Have you ever looked in the mirror and noticed your tongue becoming pale? This happens when a white coating is developed on your tongue, which is usually harmless. It can be either tongue or just part of it. Here are six reasons why your tongue looks pale.

Poor Oral Hygiene

An important reason why your tongue appears pale is poor oral hygiene. Without regular oral hygiene, germs and food debris will build up in your mouth and on your tongue, increasing the risk of cavities and other illnesses.


If you have white patches on your tongue, it could be a sign of leukoplakia. The disease most frequently affects men between the ages of 50 and 70, and it rarely affects those under 30 years of age. These spots can be white with smooth or ragged borders or white and red with wavy margins that occasionally have raised bumps. Heavy alcohol consumption and smoking are the main causes of leukoplakia. So, let your dentist know if white spots appear on your tongue. Early diagnosis of this disease is essential because, in rare cases, it even causes oral cancer. Additionally, giving up alcohol and tobacco and adopting a healthy diet can help control its symptoms.

Also ReadWhite Tongue: Causes, Remedies & Risk Factors

Dry Mouth

Dehydration, medicines, and diabetes are just a few factors contributing to dry mouth, which can occasionally turn the tongue pale. The salivary glands don't produce enough saliva to adequately lubricate the lips when a person has a dry mouth. In this condition, it becomes challenging to rinse away germs, food debris, and other detritus without enough saliva. A change in the tongue tone is not the only symptom of a dry mouth, a sore tongue, thickened saliva, and bad breath are the additional symptoms of a dry mouth. Finding the source of dry mouth is the first step in addressing it, so consulting a medical or dental expert is imperative.

Oral Thrush

Oral thrush, also known as a yeast infection, can cause white spots on the tongue's surface, giving it a pale or light appearance. A doctor will inspect these patches and collect a sample in order to identify the oral thrush. It is possible that your dentist will prescribe a mouthwash or medication to address it. Your dentist may also use a painless technique called scraping to remove the patches, as per Stanford Medical. It's advisable to see your doctor or dentist if you notice any white spots on your tongue so they can make a diagnosis and recommend the best course of treatment.

Also ReadTongue Cleaning With Toothbrushes And Scrapers: Merits & Demerits

Oral Lichen Planus 

White spots can develop on your lips and tongue, giving them a pale appearance due to immune system disorder. In this condition, your lips may become sore, and your tongue may turn white. Additionally, you might have ulcers inside of your mouth.

Geographic Tongue

Like psoriasis, this condition also causes red and white patches to appear on the tongue. As per Mayo Clinic, these patches can migrate all over the mouth, and the discolouration may change over time. Fortunately, this asymptomatic disease will probably go away on its own. Its main signs include intolerance to spicy, sweet, or salty food.

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