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ASK YOUR DENTIST 23 - Fungal infection of the tongue

“Dear Doctor,

I have a real doosey of a problem, but I do not want to go to a dentist about it. My teeth are okay, but my tongue has this recurring problem with it. It develops this thick, mat like layer of fungus, or I don’t know what. It’s not as bad as it sounds, and the stuff goes away in like 2-3 days after I gargle with a vinegary salt water mixture twice a day, but it has come back 4 times already in 2 years. What is your advice, how do I treat it? What is causing it? How do I make it go away?

Thanks, Hannah”

fungal infection

Dear Hannah,

You seem very blazé about this, but make no mistake: you have a serious medical condition (possibly more than one) and you need to see a doctor about this problem immediately. You probably have a fungal infection of the tongue, as the mat like layer would lead me to believe the presence of mycelium, which is what mold and even the fruiting bodies of mushrooms grow from. You may have a bacterial infection, and this is also bad news.

In order to clear up the problem, it is not enough to gargle some homemade potion that you invented (mouthwash would have worked better, and would have tasted less foul, by the way). You need to take antibiotics, or an antifungal, or else you will have this problem come up again and again. This is the only proper treatment, as the bacteria and or fungus lives in your body, and not just in your tongue. Treating only the tongue will not get rid of the problem, but will only alleviate the symptoms for a short period of time.

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