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Out of resources. .. not sure what to do
May 16, 2001

Hi Dr. Reznik. I am writing to you because neither my doctor nor my dentist really know what to make of my tongue. I know it is impossible to do a diagnosis over the internet, but here are the facts. In about Dec., I noticed my tongue was kind of a hairy white. The entire top surface of my tongue, from clear in the almost to the very tip has acquaired a hairy white appearance, like its growing on top of the tasted buds on my tongue. It doesnt appear to affect the sides of my tonuge, as they are still pink. I am HIV negative as of 6 months from a last encounter, and both doctor and dentist thought it was coated tongue, but it won't go away with brushing. They say it doesn't appear to be thrush, since it won't brush off, and there is no white spots on the rest of my mouth. I was looking at the pictures on your website and the top of my tongue looks like http://www.hivdent.org/slides/8_hl.htm , with the little white dots everywhere, but without the large white growths on the side. Is it possible that I have OHL on just the top of my tongue?

Response from Dr. Reznik

I am not aware of any cases of oral hairy leukoplakia (OHL) that are limited to the top of the tongue. As a matter of fact, I have only seen a few cases where the extent of OHL was so extreme that there was some involvement of the top surface of the tongue.

What you have described sounds very much like hairy tongue, which is nothing more than an elongation of the papillae of the tongue. This condition is not a sign of illness, but rather a variation of normal, which tends to appear in people who have risk factors such as smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages and dry mouth. Gentle brushing will help alleviate this condition, but it will take some time.

I hope this information proves helpful.

Sincerely,

DR


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