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Mouth Diseases

Roof of Mouth

02/04/2010

Question:

I have a thick coating on the roof of my mouth when I get up in the morning. I can remove it with my finger----it is dark in color----sometimes the material is white and very soft. This has been going on for quite a while now and I am getting concerned it may be something harmful. It only occures when I wake up each morning but doesn`t form again till the next night.

Answer:

What you describe does not sound serious but neither does it sound specific for a certain disease or condition.

My educated guess would be that the coating represents thickened saliva, possibly together with secretions from the nose that drain down the back of the throat. Added into this "soup" are cells that shed from the lining of the mouth/nose and many microorganisms that feed on the cellular debris. Depending upon how you sleep and how high (deep) your palate extends, this "soup" can collect in the roof of the mouth and be dried into place by breathing through the mouth; producing a film or coating. Color variation can reflect differences in associated oral microbes, cells (possibly including red blood cells) or even the relative contribution of nasal versus oral secretions.

If this issue persists or worsens, you might want to see your dentist or an ear, nose and throat (ENT, otorhinolaryngologist) specialist. Good luck and thank you for visiting NetWellness!

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Response by:

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