OK-- I will respond to your latest questions. However, if you still need further confirmation about the tongue bumps to which you originally referred, I invite you to upload photographs of the involved areas. You may use the "paper clip" icon on the text entry form toolbar to upload a digital picture. Alternatively, you may send your picture to a photo hosting site, such as Flickr
, and provide a link to the picture in a reply.
"If you drink somewhat heavily, even before bed, and don't brush your teeth before bed, and don't practice good oral hygiene, and smoke heavily, don't drink a lot of water, you can develop a coating on your tongue?
In fact, there is always a coating on the tongue, whether it is visible or not. The coating varies in visibility and thickness according to changes in the local oral environment. Allow me to clarify...
Much like the skin, the surface of the tongue is composed of tissue called "epithelium". This tissue is in a constant state of "exfoliation" (sloughing off and being carried away by a combination of mechanical friction and salivary flow and swallowing), and also in a constant state of renewal: new epithelium is formed at its bottom layer, and that new epithelium matures and slowly makes its way to the tongue surface as the top layers are swept away. Anything that slows the exfoliation of epithelium, such as diminished chewing, motor impairment of the tongue, or diminished salivary flow, will cause the surface tissues to thicken. Conversely, anything that increases the exfoliation of the tongue, such as increased chewing activity, tongue brushing, or improved salivary flow will tend to diminish the thickness of the tongue coating. In other words, exfoliation and new epithelial growth are in a constant state of "dynamic equilibrium" that can be shifted toward a thickening or a thinning out of the tongue surface, according to changing conditions in the mouth.
In the case of the condition "hairy tongue", the equilibrium is shifted toward thickening of the epithelium. The innumerable tiny bumps on the upper tongue surface-- the "filliform papillae"-- tend to lengthen and accumulate organic debris. This coating may increase in thickness significantly, to the point where it appears like a fur coating. It may also become stained to anywhere between a whitish-yellow to a dark brown or even black color. Hairy tongue is best treated by identifying those factors which may be responsible for either diminished exfoliation or increased epithelial growth. Sometimes, the cause is unexpected-- for example, some patients will attempt to treat the condition by rinsing with hydrogen peroxide, not knowing that this practice can even accelerate epithelial growth and worsen hairy tongue. A better strategy is to regularly brush the tongue or scrape the tongue surface with a device made for this purpose (a tongue scraper). Any other contributing factors which may impair salivary flow or stimulate epithelial growth,, such as dehydration, smoking, alcohol consumption, should also be managed if feasible.
"Can that coating occur anywhere, even on the back of your tongue? It so, is there a way to get rid of it for good or will it always be there somewhat?
Actually, it is more likely to occur on the back of the tongue, where tongue brushing and scraping are more problematic (it is quite difficult to brush or scrape the back of the tongue without provoking severe gagging). However, coatings on the posterior tongue are seldom a functional or cosmetic concern.
As I indicated before, some coating of the tongue is always present. However, proper oral hygiene is usually sufficient to keep it within acceptable bounds.
Hope this helps...