Reasons For A Gray Tongue

Checking your tongue is usually not a frequent thing you do during your oral hygiene routine. You will notice a pink tongue when you brush your teeth or check your smile in the mirror. Many people clean their tongues when brushing their teeth. So, you will be pretty concerned if your tongue has a strange discoloration, which can be a grayish tint.

At this point, you will be wondering about the reason for this discoloration. You will also think if you have to worry about it. In this article, we will talk about some common reasons for a gray tongue. We will also discuss risk factors and possible treatment.


Leukoplakia is an oral condition that results in white or gray patches on your tongue or inner cheeks. This condition is usually not painful and may remain unnoticed if you do not keep up with your dental checkup routine. One of the leukoplakia signs is that you cannot scrape off these patches on your tongue gently.

You are generally at the risk of developing this condition if you are a smoker or chew tobacco. While this condition is not dangerous, ignoring it is not the wise thing to do. Although there is a rare chance of it, these patches can be precancerous.

Oral Lichen Planus

Lichen planus is an inflammatory disorder affecting different parts of your body. It appears in the form of reddish-purple rashes or bumps. This condition will look gray and lacy when it develops inside your mouth. In most cases, these patches are not painful or itchy. In some people, these patches can lead to tender sores, ulcers, or a burning sensation.

The cause of this condition remains unknown in most cases. However, it usually occurs due to an abnormal immune response. Possible triggers for this condition are the following.

  • Flu vaccine
  • Hepatitis C
  • Some chemicals and metals (amalgam filling, for instance)
  • Pain-relieving medicines, including ibuprofen and medications for heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and high blood pressure.

Oral thrush

Oral thrush is an infection that develops due to candida fungus. While this fungus is present in our mouths the entire time, an overgrowth can happen due to a weakened immune system. It can result in oral thrush. Oral thrush is also prevalent in babies and older adults. It appears in the form of white, cottage cheese-like patches. Removing any of these patches reveals a red and bleeding area underneath. So, trying to remove these patches on your own is not recommended.

This oral infection can occur due to various reasons. The most common cause is a weakened or suppressed immune system. It is also prevalent in people with cancer or diabetes. Antibiotic medication can also result in the formation of oral thrush.

Poor oral hygiene

Sometimes, a white or gray coating can develop on your tongue due to poor oral hygiene. Lack of hygiene can also result in papillae on your tongue getting inflamed. These inflamed papillae can become a resting place for dead cells and bacteria. This entire phenomenon causes a white or gray coating on your tongue.


You must go for a dental checkup if you notice the formation of a white or gray coating on your tongue. The dentist will analyze your tongue and determine the reason for discoloration. Based on this analysis, you will get a treatment prescribed.