What Discolored Patches in Your Mouth Can Mean

Posted on 7/26/2021 by Cole Anderson, DMD, MS
What Discolored Patches in Your Mouth Can MeanIt can be alarming to suddenly notice a discolored patch in your mouth. As with any other new symptom, it is important to seek medical care and get a professional diagnosis rather than jumping to conclusions. Oral discoloration could be relatively harmless, or it could be a sign of a serious condition. Here are examples of a few conditions that can cause discolored patches to appear in your mouth.

Oral Cancer

Discolored patches in your mouth, specifically red or white patches on your tongue, can be an early warning sign of oral cancer. Oral cancer can affect all different areas of your mouth, including your lips, cheeks, tongue, salivary glands, and the roof and floor of your mouth. Oral cancer is often fatal in its later stages, but it is highly treatable if it is caught early.

Yeast Infection

A yeast infection, also known as candidiasis, can affect different areas of your body, including your mouth. Oral yeast infections often result in white or yellowish patches on the tongue. Yeast infections are treated with antibiotics.

Addison's Disease

Addison's disease is an autoimmune disease. This condition affects your hormones and can cause patches of discolored skin, including on your lips and gums. Addison's disease causes uncomfortable symptoms that can interfere with your quality of life, but it can be managed with the use of steroids.


HIV/AIDS is a serious autoimmune condition that is contracted via bodily fluids. HIV can be managed with various medications, but AIDS, the disease that develops from contracting HIV, has no cure. AIDS can cause purple or black patches on the skin known as Kaposi sarcoma. Kaposi sarcoma sometimes appear on the roof of the mouth in people with AIDS.


Measles is no longer very common in developed countries due to widespread vaccinations. However, when it does occur, measles can lead to the formation of spots known as Koplik spots inside your cheeks. These spots appear white with a red ring around them.
Discolored patches in your mouth can mean many different things. Call us if you notice new discoloration.

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