You are here:

Dentistry/Tongue Cancer?


QUESTION: In April I bit my tongue and was left with a huge nasty ulcer. It stopped hurting and looked better after a few weeks but the tongue has remained pale in colour ever since. My dentist is unconcerned by this. As is the other dentist I got a second opinion from. I am still so worried though. I have read so much about white spots being the start of cancer etc. I don't really know how they can write it off as fine without a biopsy.

I am female, early 20s, pregnant, non smoker and non drinker if my history is relevant at all.

ANSWER: Hollie- What you are experiencing is a normal reaction that occurs during healing.  Just like a scar, the body increases the number of cells in the traumatized area to protect it during the healing process.  Scars are often of a different color than surrounding tissues, not unlike what has happened to you.  

So the paler area of your tongue is similar to a scar.  You can leave this alone and it will be fine, but you can promote a more natural color of the area by gently massaging the area.  It will not revert immediately to the same color as the surrounding tissues, but it is not important or dangerous if you left the area alone and time worked on it.

So it is up to you.  You can leave the area and it will eventually look just like the surrounding tissues of the tongue or you can try to rush it by massaging.  So what you are experiencing is definitely not cancer or other bad tissues.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello thank you so much. So it okay for it to still be pale 4 months later? I suppose my main worry is it seems to me the pale area is getting bigger- though I'm not sure if it actually is or if it's just my imagination as I'm so worried. Just to confirm though it doesn't look in anyway concerning?

Hollie -  I wish I could personally examine the area to be sure what think is occurring truly is.  I see that you have seen to dentists who both felt the area looks health.  My suggestion, to definitely give you peace of mind, is to have an oral and maxillofacial surgeon instead of a general dentist examine you.  The surgeons are more familiar with true pathology.  So give yourself peace of mind if you are not sure.


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired


I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon and I am available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.


Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicine for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor and State University School of Dentistry.

American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

BA -University of Connecticut DMD - University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine

Awards and Honors
National Honor Society (OKU), Philadelphia County Dental Society, Mosby Book Award, Oral Surgery Honors, Summa Cum Laude

©2016 All rights reserved.