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Dental and Oral Health Center

Tongue deposits

06/25/2007

Question:

A milky white substance forms on the left and right edges of my tongue. It can easily be scraped away. If left, it will increase and start to hang from the tongue edge.

I am 54 years old and have lived with this for 5 years. It is more pronounced on the right hand side. There is no discomfort whatsoever.

Answer:

What you describe sounds like the tongue may be producing extra, callus-like material.  In the areas you describe, this is usually associated with irritation from the teeth and in some patients, there is a recognized habit of tongue chewing or nibbling. 

In addition, patients who are sensitive to cinnamon flavoring can have features similar to those you describe. Cinnamon contact is easily recognized in the form of chewing gum or mints, and in this case is often more prominent on one side of the tongue. But many patients and dentists are not aware that toothpastes and mouthwash solutions often contain high levels of cinnamon. Complete, total, or multiple-care gel forms of the toothpaste are the most suspect in this regard.  Switching to a simple paste or baking soda only may help identify this complicating factor.

Good luck!

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Response by:

John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Pathology
Associate Dean of Dentistry Administration
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University