What are the white spots in a newborn’s mouth?

Epstein's PearlsParents often have questions about the things they see in their baby’s mouths. Here are the most common findings you may notice.

  • Epstein’s Pearls. These are white spots on the roof of a baby’s mouth. They are usually the size of a sesame seeds. They disappear in a month or two.
  • Bahn’s Nodules. These are white spots on the top or sides of a baby’s gums. They are bigger than Epstein’s Pearls, and parents sometimes mistake them for teeth. They disappear by 6 months.
  • White or irregular gums. Some babies have smooth gums. Others have tiny ridges. The sides of a baby’s gums sometimes look white instead of pink. These are all normal findings.
  • White coating on the tongue. Most parents are aware that newborns can get a yeast infection called thrush. However, if all you see is a thin, white coating on your baby’s tongue, it’s most likely from breast milk or formula. With thrush, you usually see cheesy-looking material on the inside of the cheeks and lips and on the roof of the baby’s mouth.
  • Tongue-tie. This is hard for parents to see, but most have heard about it. The bottom of the tongue attaches to the floor of the mouth with a thin band of tissue called the lingual frenulum. In some cases, the frenulum is tight, thick or attaches near the tip of the tongue. If this happens, it may be harder for your baby to nurse properly. Doctors and nurses routinely check for this at newborn visits. In some cases, the baby will be referred to an oral surgeon or an ENT doctor to “clip” the frenulum.
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