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Dental and Oral Health Center

Brown Spots on the Tip of My Tongue

11/30/2009

Question:

I am African-American and I have brown spots on my tongue and I`ve seen a dentist who said that it was just similliar to freckles. However, can I get these spots removed? Is there a laser that can do this? Is there a dentist in the Cleveland, Ohio area that can do this for me?- HELP

Answer:

First of all, I am glad you at least had your dentist evaluate the lesion. As mundane as it sounds, you ruled out what might have been a serious problem.

Now, the ephilis or freckles you are mentioning that occur on the tongue are probably the result of increased expression of melanin or the brown pigmentation on your skin. The cause of freckling in the oral cavity is unknown, whereas on the skin it may be the result of ultra violet light (UV) exposure (I would doubt that you walk around exposing your tongue to direct sunlight).

Treatment options are questionable at best. As you mention, the use of laser therapy may produce more problems than the existence of freckles, as the high energy ablation may cause significant swelling and scarring to the tongue surface. I am not aware of any whitening agents that would be effective for use in the mouth, as the possibility of toxicity, mucosal irritation, and lack of retention as a result of saliva flow washing the surface would complicate such problems.

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Response by:

Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
School of Dental Medicine
Case Western Reserve University