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Mouth Diseases

Orange tongue

06/06/2008

Question:

I am a healthy 39 year old female. Over the last few months at night when I brush my teeth I have noticed that my tongue is orange. I brush the color away but it is back the very next night. This is not due to drinking orange crush or eating cheetos because I haven`t had either in years. There is also a weird taste in my mouth at times. I am taking a medication and an antiobitic for acne.

Answer:

Color changes of the top (dorsal) surface of the tongue are not uncommon, especially in people who smoke. This is often caused by a combination of things, including elongation of the tiny hairs of the tongue (filiform papillae), increased bacterial growth on these longer hairs, and some of the pigmented particles present in tobacco smoke, coffee, tea, etc.  Since you can easily remove the color, it does not sound like a major problem except for its persistence.

It is possible that once you complete the antibiotic for your acne, the normal balance of bacteria will be restored to the mouth and the color problem may fade away. If not, you may want to see your dentist or a dental specialist for a more complete evaluation of this pesky condition.

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