Gentle Dental at Jefferson Avenue
529 E Jefferson Avenue, Detroit, MI 48226

What a White Tongue and Other Tongue Troubles Are Really Saying


Your tongue isn’t in the pink if it appears white, black, red, or ridged. See what’s behind such tongue trauma and learn how to handle the problem.

White Tongue

Cause: A white, coated tongue often occurs if you’re taking steroids for asthma, on antibiotics, undergoing chemotherapy, or dealing with diabetes or a compromised immune system. A white tongue may also be a sign of leukoplakia from excessive alcohol or tobacco use.

Cure: Be sure to brush your tongue twice daily for two weeks. Why should you brush your tongue, you may wonder? The reason is to ensure that a coated tongue is not an oral hygiene problem. If you continue to have a white tongue, it may be an overgrowth of candida, which is also called yeast or oral thrush. A coated tongue is easy to treat with an anti-fungal medication.

Red Tongue

Cause: Redness on the tongue could simply indicate a sore throat, vitamin deficiency, or a case of dry mouth. But if you have strep throat and a high fever, it may indicate scarlet fever

Cure: Throat lozenges can soothe a sore throat and dry mouth can be treated with a product for saliva replacement or by drinking more water. A vitamin deficiency can be corrected with supplements and scarlet fever can be treated with antibiotics.

Black Tongue

Cause: This may appear frightening at first, but it’s really no cause for concern. It typically occurs when cells on the tongue grow faster than they’re shed. It’s associated with improper oral hygiene, antibiotic use, a yeast infection, cancer therapy, and diabetes.

Cure: This condition typically subsides on its own.

Striped Tongue

Cause: A striped tongue may be a sign of a chronic condition called oral lichen planus, which is when the immune system attacks the cells in the mouth. Middle-aged women most commonly experience it.

The Cure: You probably won’t need treatment if it isn’t painful. However, have your doctor monitor your case because you may have a higher risk of developing oral cancer. If the condition is painful, you may be given medication.

Geographic Tongue

The Cause: Geographic tongue gets its name from red and white spots on the tongue that look like a geographic map. It’s a sign that your taste buds have worn down in different areas. Some medical research indicates a correlation with the autoimmune condition called celiac disease.

The Cure: The condition needs no treatment.

Bumpy Tongue

The Cause: Taste buds on the back of the tongue are bumpier than those near the front, so expect small bumps in those areas. Eating hot, spicy foods can often irritate them and make them appear larger. Besides these bumps, you may notice others due to canker sores or herpes.

Cure: Bumps caused by canker sores or herpes will go away on their own, but you can hasten healing by soothing canker sores with an over-the-counter ointment, gargling with baking soda mixed in water, and avoiding acidic foods. Herpes requires a prescription antiviral medication.

Ridged Tongue

Cause: Ridges typically occur when your teeth press into your tongue while you sleep. Yet ridges may also indicate a fissured tongue, which is a long crack down the center of the tongue.

Cure: Sleep-induced ridges go away on their own, but a fissured tongue is a lifelong genetic issue. If you have a fissured tongue, food may get trapped in the tongue’s indentions and lead to dental decay. This is why you should brush your tongue when brushing your teeth to remove any trapped food and debris that could cause dental issues.

To learn about our family dentistry practice in Downtown Detroit, call Gentle Dental at Jefferson Avenue today at (313) 879-4769 or make an appointment.

Gentle Dental offers affordable family dentistry and gentle, compassionate dental care in Downtown Detroit. With 8 affiliated practices throughout Michigan, our offices are conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At Gentle Dental at Jefferson Avenue, we provide most dental services, from basic preventative care and general dentistry to specialized procedures and complete dental reconstruction. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable dental care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping those smiles healthy, beautiful, and bright. Discover an affordable dentist who truly cares at Gentle Dental at Jefferson Avenue.

Read What Our Patients Say
Patient Reviews
My family has been coming here for years. The service is always great!
Damita H.
Jakiya was an amazing assistant, shes also beautiful. Hope to see her every time I have an appointment. Dr Mita was very funny and informative.
Trevon K.
Very professional and painless and just nice people
Michael R.
Clean office, friendly staff, very professional
Roscolette F.
Great experience for the office on Jefferson.. I didn’t have to wait long at all in and out all Employees are professional from Dr to Assistants… This will be my dentist going forward. Thank […]
Deandre L.
Dr. Zang, Amber, and Tonya did a wonderful job of making sure I was comfortable and understood what was going on. They were upfront with what treatment they recommended, and how much it would cost me […]
Dennis R.
Jakiya and amber did a good job thank you so much
Anthony G.
My Dentist Dr Zheng was great. My assistant Jakiya was very nice and professional.
Joyce P.
Great service, wonderful staff and care. I consider it a good choice. Jakiya helped me with everything i needed like a friend.
Jay R.
Best dental experience ever
Dante P.
They are very nice and concern and explain everything to me in details. When the front girls messed up one of the women back there got me back there. Fast and apologize to me. I would go back and […]
Julie M.
The staff was friendly, polite, well educated and well spoken. I was able to call and get a new patient appointment asap
Taliferro B.
I had a very great experience with Tonya.She did a wonderful job on my teeth.She was very kind,clean, efficient & fast.My overall experience is great
My DA Makita was wonderful.
Don E.
This dental office is awesome.. I would recommend them to all of my family and friends.
Deressa B.
Jakiya was the best! Great staff!
Michael R.
Hello, my experience today having a root canal done by Dr. Hanana went very well, and her assistant Shanekquah did a great job . Thank you both
Yvette H.
Everyone in the office has a pleasant attitude, they make you feel welcome and comfortable. The staff answer all question and the experience is just awesome.
Janet H.
I was very anxious going in my cap had broke off and I needed it fixed asap,they were very comforting and understanding with my concerns and helped and are still helping through my DENTAL […]
Ingrid W.
Tanya is the best
Tina B.
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