Author: Lizzie Smith – blog last updated on Tuesday 15th January 2024

A white or yellow tongue is usually not a disease. Instead, it’s caused by a disturbance of the bacteria in the mouth – your oral flora. This white or yellow coating is a mixture of bacteria, saliva and food debris. It’s pretty innocent, but it’s also unsavoury. If you want to get rid of your white tongue quickly, we have an article all about that, which you can read here.

However, sometimes there’s more to it. And that’s what we’re going to look at here.

tongue diseases

White tongue due to an oral fungal infection (Candida albicans)

A yeast infection can also cause a white deposit on the tongue. The yeast Candida albicans lives modestly in the mouth of most people and is kept in check by the rest of the oral flora.

However, a disturbed balance or a weakened immune system can cause the yeast to proliferate. If this happens, the yeast becomes a fungus, which appears as white threads in the mouth. This is also called thrush and occurs regularly in infants and older people. The fungus can still happen even if you don’t belong to either of those groups, for example, following a course of antibiotics that’s disrupted the balance of the oral flora by killing certain bacteria.

You can treat a Candida infection quickly and easily with medication, so always visit your doctor.

Hair tongue

A hairy tongue usually stains the tongue brown or black. Apart from the discolouration, the tongue also looks different. The tongue papillae don’t wear down enough, becoming too long and resembling hairs. In principle, this condition is harmless. However, it can cause an unpleasant feeling and/or taste in the mouth. 

The exact cause of the hairy tongue is unknown, but the oral flora has been disturbed, just like with a white tongue. The cause of the insufficient abrasion of the papillae is also unclear. But more and more deposits can get stuck between the long papillae, which can absorb dyes from the food. Coffee, in particular, can stain the tongue dark brown or black.

The solution is often sought via a healthier lifestyle, including eating healthier, stopping smoking and drinking alcohol, and reducing the amount of coffee and tea consumed. In addition, good oral hygiene is essential. Brush the teeth twice daily and clean the tongue with a scraper or a special tongue brush. Don’t use your toothbrush!

hair tongue

You can clean a hair tongue even more thoroughly with JuliBrite’s effective tongue cleaner, which has both a tongue brush and a tongue scraper side. The accompanying JuliBrite Tongue Gel from the JuliBrite Tongue Clean Kit fights the harmful bacteria between your tongue papillae. This is done with zinc lactate, which keeps the beneficial microbes intact and doesn’t further disturb your oral flora. After brushing, scrape the white deposit off your tongue with the tongue scraper side.

You should also pay attention to the ingredients of your toothpaste and mouthwash. Many regular oral care products contain aggressive ingredients that affect the balance in the oral cavity. Choose effective but mild products to treat a black or brown hair tongue.

RyttPro toothpaste and mouthwash are a safe choice. RyttPro’s formula is based on stabilised chlorine dioxide, zinc and cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC). Together they effectively fight the harmful bacteria in the mouth without disturbing the oral flora.

Country map tongue

A map tongue, officially called lingua geographica, gives the tongue a curious blotchy appearance. Some parts of the tongue are smooth and red, while others are rough and white. The tongue papillae are missing on the smooth parts, and these smooth spots move over your tongue over the years. They disappear and can arise in a different place. A map tongue can persist for a long time but also disappear in the foreseeable future.

As a rule, this isn’t a severe condition. However, some people with geographic tongue report other symptoms such as a sore, burning or swollen tongue. Others only experience problems when they consume sharp or acidic foods.

The exact cause of a geographic tongue is unclear. However, genetic conditions, stress, deficient nutrition, infections and dry mouth complaints seem to play a role. A map tongue also often occurs if you have asthma, hay fever and eczema.

A map tongue’s rough, white parts look unkempt and can leave a foul or bitter taste in the mouth. The bacterial balance can be disturbed in the rough parts, just like with a white tongue. Here too, it’s essential to maintain excellent oral hygiene, including thoroughly cleaning the tongue.

Sore tongue

A sore tongue isn’t a disease; more a symptom that can occur due to different causes. This varies from damage to your tongue due to a broken tooth, a sip of a cup of tea that’s too hot, or even tongue cancer. Some possible causes of sore tongue are:

  • Infections such as scarlet fever, herpes or syphilis and an oral yeast infection (Candida albicans)
  • Mechanical damage due to the temporary aforementioned broken tooth, but also longer-term issues such as teeth grinding and tongue pressing in sleep
  • Nutritional deficiencies such as a vitamin B12 deficiency or anaemia
  • A spotted map tongue (lingua geographica) can cause a burning sensation or pain.
  • Diseases such as diabetes and thyroid disorders
  • Changes in the hormone balance. During menopause, some women can experience burning mouth syndrome – a more or less inexplicable burning sensation on the tongue and mucous membranes.
  • Dry mouth complaints (xerostomia) from any cause
  • Ulcers, blisters or bumps on the tongue due to reduced resistance
  • Tongue cancer

In these cases, you should consult your doctor, who can make a diagnosis fairly quickly and will advise whether an injury, a viral, bacterial or fungal infection, reduced resistance or cancer has caused your sore tongue. Treatment will depend on the cause and diagnosis — for example, a dentist repairing a sharp chipped tooth or prescribing medication for an oral fungal infection.

In addition, it’s wise to examine the ingredients in your toothpaste and mouthwash critically. You don’t want to further irritate your tongue with harmful components that affect the natural balance in the oral cavity. Instead, choose gentle oral care products such as RyttPro and JuliBrite. These formulas are effective against harmful bacteria whilst respecting the balance of the oral flora by not acidifying the mouth.

country map tongue

Burning tongue

With a burning or burning tongue (glossodynia), you suffer from a stinging, abrasive or itchy feeling, which can be annoying. If it’s not only your tongue that feels hot but also the inside of the cheek or other parts of the mouth, this is called burning mouth syndrome.

A bad taste in the mouth, taste disturbance or a dry mouth can accompany a burning tongue. The condition can have various causes, which aren’t always completely traceable.

  • This can sometimes occur due to damage caused by broken teeth or molars. The sharp edges can cut into the tongue and irritate it. In this case, visit your dentist, so they can repair the damage.
  • It can also occur after a dental procedure, where a patient has undergone several procedures. In addition, there may be a contact allergy to prosthetic components, metals or toothpaste.
  • A burning tongue and burning mouth are common in menopausal women without visible abnormalities.
  • Diabetes can also cause a burning tongue, as can nutritional deficiencies such as iron and vitamin B.
  • Infections with the fungus Candida albicans or the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus can also be the culprit.
  • In addition, neurological disorders and mental illnesses such as depression, neurosis or schizophrenia (as well as the medication used to combat them) can cause a burning tongue.
  • In combination with dry mouth, certain medicines can cause a burning sensation in the tongue, as can diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome, lichen planus and tongue cancer.

Given the variety of possible causes, it’s essential to consult your doctor, so they can make a complete diagnosis and treat the cause. Or in the case of psychological complaints, further help can be offered.

best tongue cleaner

If you have a burning tongue, paying attention to the ingredients of your toothpaste and mouthwash is also prudent. If your tongue feels as though it’s burning and irritated for whatever reason, your oral care products mustn’t contain any corrosive or aggressive substances, as this will only irritate it further. For example, choose the effective but mild toothpaste from RyttPro with the accompanying mouthwash.

Youcan keep the tongue clean with the RyttPro Clean Tongue Kit, a tongue cleaner with a soft brush and a scraping part, which you use with the smooth, mouth-friendly RyttPro Tongue Foam.

In case of dry mouth complaints, it’s a good idea to hydrate the tongue and oral mucosa in between with Moist-R Refreshing Tongue Spray, which also stimulates saliva production.

Blisters, bumps or sores on the tongue

sores on tongue

Usually, blisters, bumps or sores on the tongue are harmless. However, if they don’t disappear independently, it’s wise to consult your doctor, especially regarding nodules or hard painless sores.

Small sores are often a precursor to the flu or other infectious disease. Canker sores (the small or larger greyish sores on the inside of the cheeks)are also harmless and usually disappear on their own.

Ulcers can indicate tuberculosis, a herpes infection, or the first stage of syphilis. However, an allergy or an immune system disease can also cause sores on the tongue. In these cases, you should consult your doctor.

Similarly, a bump on one side of the tongue or a completely hard tongue is also a reason to see a doctor. 

During any treatment prescribed by your doctor, it’s also advisable to lubricate your mouth and tongue with mouth-friendly products from RyttPro or JuliBrite.

Gorge tongue

A fissured or chapped tongue, officially called lingua plicata, is a harmless abnormality of the tongue’s surface. It involves one or more grooves along the length of the tongue, which may be superficial. But the fissures can also be so long and deep that it appears the tongue is split in two. The exact cause of a fissured tongue is unknown. However, it occurs relatively often in people with psoriasis and Down syndrome. Older people are also more likely to suffer from a cleft tongue. 

tongue diseases

Gorge tongue also occurs in combination with the above-mentioned map tongue (lingua geographical).

Fortunately, people generally have little trouble with a fissure tongue. Because there’s no treatment for it, you must keep your tongue as clean as possible, as deposits and food residues can remain in the deep grooves.

You can prevent this by brushing your tongue with a JuliBrite or RyttPro tongue cleaner. These tongue cleaners consist of a tongue scraper and a special tongue brush. With the accompanying JuliBrite Tongue Gel or RyttPro Tongue Foam, you can safely fight harmful bacteria even in the deepest crevices.


The above tongue diseases must be distinguished from the „ordinary“ white tongue, which you can remedy yourself with the correct methods. In case of the above tongue abnormalities discussed, it’s essential to consult the doctor.


British Dental Association:  Myth busters on brushing your teeth

Health Line: 5 Reasons to Scrape Your Tongue and How to Do It

British Dental Journal: Tongue scrapers may reduce halitosis in adults