There are several uncommon mouth disorders that look like they belong in a horror movie. Your mouth simply shouldn’t look scary. Instead, leave fearful-looking things to Halloween with consistent dental care.

Here are a few disorders of the mouth to beware of:

Amalgam Tattoo

A dark black or blue-gray spot adjacent to a dental filling is referred to as an amalgam tattoo. Like regular tattoos, they are not harmful or painful and don’t require treatment. However, if you are still concerned, ask your family dentist to take a look to rule out oral cancer.

Bald Tongue

While the term “bald” may sound insensitive, with hair loss being a concern of many, this common name for atrophic glossitis refers to the absence of bumps that normally give tongues their rough texture. The shiny, smooth appearance is usually attributed to nutritional deficiencies that occur with conditions like Celiac Disease and other infections. The treatment involves seeing a doctor who can help identify the root cause and outline a protocol to address it promptly.

Black Hairy Tongue

If it looks like a big black spider has crawled inside your mouth, you could have Black Hairy Tongue. Don’t panic! This dark coating that appears when protein keratin builds up on your tongue is easily prevented and remedied with good oral hygiene. In addition to twice daily brushing and flossing, adding a tongue scraper is the best way to keep Black Hairy Tongue at bay.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Ever take a swig of coffee and discover it was way too hot? That is how Burning Mouth Syndrome feels. But, unlike the initial scalding sting of a hot beverage that quickly subsides, Burning Mouth Syndrome can worsen throughout the day. It can also start upon awakening and become a chronic or recurrent condition. It can affect the gums, inside of cheeks, lips, roof of the mouth, tongue or the entire mouth. Numbness, stinging, tingling, dry mouth, a bitter, metallic taste, or loss of taste entirely, are additional symptoms. While nerve issues, acid reflux and menopause are likely sources of this painful condition, this disorder has no definite cause or treatment. Some sufferers experience improvement by skipping acidic beverages, switching to less abrasive toothpaste, and easing up on aggressive tongue brushing or harsh mouthwashes.

Fissured Tongue

Grooves on top of the tongue may range from shallow to deep fissures. We’d like to say we know the cause, but this harmless cavernous appearance on the tongue has no known origin. Just be careful to clean your tongue well to keep the grooves free of food debris.

Geographic Tongue

Geographic tongue involves red patches resembling topographic maps that appear on top of and alongside the tongue that may be accompanied with a mild burning sensation. It seems our tongue is trying to show us where to go with this disorder, but alas, no hidden treasure! It may vanish a few hours after it appears or linger for several months and has no treatment or known cause. Fortunately, there is no danger associated with geographic tongue.


We think it is no coincidence that this condition bears a name similar to Loki, the trickster god of Norse mythology. This is one condition you can’t easily get away from or rub off on your own. Should you develop these white patches inside your cheeks, on your gums, or underneath your tongue, a biopsy is needed. With benign Leukoplakia, patients need to discontinue foods, beverages or habits that may be irritating their mouths. Should oral cancer be found, surgery to remove the patches is required.

“Lie” Bumps

No, not things that go bump in the night, but extra small bumps on the tongue called transient lingual papillitis. “Lie” Bumps often appear on the tongue tip and may be tingly, itchy and painful. They typically go away within one to two days and have no clear-cut cause. However, food allergies, infections and sensitivity to some oral care products are linked with these “lie” bumps. If too painful, a numbing gel available over the counter can help alleviate the discomfort.

Reticular Lichen Planus

Although lacy doilies went out of style years ago, this condition with a lacy pattern and fine white lines on top of the tongue, the gumline and inside of the cheeks still appears now and then. Here again, it is deemed harmless, and the cause is largely unknown. However, the immune system may be the culprit, as it is believed that the whitish pattern may be the result of your body’s defenses attacking your mouth’s lining.

Scalloped Tongue

Scalloped Tongue refers to indentations on the sides of your tongue caused by your teeth. This condition often occurs with misaligned bites or sleep disorders wherein people push their tongues against their teeth. Teeth straightening or a night guard can help treat these issues, respectively. But an enlarged tongue due to hormone imbalances or other health issues may also be to blame. See your family dentist or doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Yellow Tongue

A yellowish hue on the tongue’s surface is typically due to bacteria buildup, food or beverage stains and smoking. Using a tongue scraper or brushing your tongue are the simplest remedies to clear away the buildup. However, if adding this step to your daily routine fails to remove the yellow coating, your dentist can examine your mouth and check for jaundice or other conditions.

As your wellness partner, New Look Dental is dedicated to ensuring stellar family dental health by encouraging our patients to practice consistent daily dental care at home combined with bi-annual cleanings in our dental clinic. We look forward to seeing you at your next dental appointment.