As fearsome as it may sound, a furry tongue is mostly harmless and easily curable. There are, however, cases when close attention must be paid to this manifestation. What causes this symptom, what can we do about it, and when should we consult a specialist? Read our blog entry to find out.
Furry Tongue – Common Causes and Cures
Furry tongue is mostly caused by debris, consisting of food, dead cells, fungi or bacteria caught between the miniature nodules on the surface of the tongue. This is easily removed with a tongue scraper or thorough cleaning with a toothbrush. Drinking lots of fluid, preferably water and non-sugary herbal teas also helps to avoid having a furry tongue. Of course, satisfactory oral hygiene, washing teeth at least twice a day and using anti-bacterial mouthwash also work wonders in prevention.
When to See a Specialist?
In some cases, especially when the whiteness cannot be removed from the tongue, or there are other unsettling symptoms, one should go and see a dentist or a GP to rule out the chance of any serious illness, or, if there are severe problems, start the treatment.
Leukoplakia is a painless condition, which makes the tongue furry in white patches, which usually spread to the inside of the cheeks and gums. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption is the main reason for this disease. Kicking these habits usually makes the symptoms disappear by themselves. Although, patients should visit their dentist continuously, to make sure the affected areas do not grow in size, or turn into malignancies.
Oral thrush is a common yeast infection, caused by the fungus Candida albicans. It is also responsible for a furry tongue, and, unlike leukoplakia, is quite painful: it causes burning white spots inside the mouth and on the tongue. One is more likely to develop the condition if they have diabetes, frequently take antibiotics, or have iron or vitamin B deficiency. Wearing dentures also makes it easier for the fungi to get inside of the mouth. Common antifungal medication is used in treating oral thrush.
Oral lichen planus is a painful condition, which also causes a burning, furry tongue. Its origin is unknown; it is neither genetic nor infectious. Mild cases usually do not require any treatment. If the patient’s condition worsens, anti-bacterial mouthwash and steroid anti-inflammatories are prescribed.
To sum up, furry tongue can be easily prevented by efficient oral hygiene, fluid, iron and vitamin B intake, while avoiding smoking and the consumption of alcohol. When irremovable or painful white spots appear in the mouth or on the tongue, one must pay a visit to a GP or dentist as soon as possible to start the healing process.