You need your tongue to talk, to swallow, and to taste food. When this strong muscle is healthy, it should have a pink color and it’s covered with papillae, which are small nodules. When some dead cells, bacteria, and food parts accumulate between the inflamed papillae, you may notice a white coating on your tongue. It’s quite a common problem, which isn’t serious, but it may lead to a bitter taste in your mouth or it can cause bad breath. Learn more about the causes of white tongue, how to get rid of the problem and how to prevent it in the future.
What Are The Causes of White Tongue
White tongue is mainly caused because of the inflammation of the papillae, which cover your tongue. The inflammation usually appears as a result of dehydration or dry mouth, smoking, fever, and drinking too much of alcohol.
Your diet is important too as food which is rich in sugar or highly acidic foods may also cause a white coating on your tongue. Not taking proper care of your oral hygiene may lead to the problem as well.
Another common cause of white tongue is oral thrush. You should mainly suspect it if a white coating on your tongue appeared after taking antibiotics as oral thrush is a kind of a yeast infection. Apart from a white coating, you may also suffer from a burning sensation in your tongue and the corner of your mouth may be irritated and painful.
A white tongue is usually harmless and you can easily get rid of it by drinking a lot of water and other fluids which don’t contain sugar. You may also try various home methods, which will help you quickly eliminate the problem.
However, you need to be aware that very rarely a white coating on your tongue may be a symptom of some more serious diseases. One of such conditions is known as leukoplakia. It happens when your organism produces too many cells and proteins, which you can see as white patches on your tongue. The condition is rarely dangerous, but it should be controlled by a doctor as there are cases when it’s cancerous.
Oral lichen planus is an immune type of a condition which may cause a white coating on the tongue, but also a burning feeling or pain. Syphilis may cause a white tongue too. It’s a condition which is transmitted sexually so if you know that you might have got it, consult your doctor as you will have to take antibiotics to get rid of it.
A condition which may be mistaken with a white tongue is known as geographic tongue. It occurs in form of thick, white layers of coating on your tongue. Moreover, spicy or salty food may cause some pain too. A white tongue may also be one of the symptoms of some very serious and life-threatening conditions, such as HIV and mouth or tongue cancer.
How to Get Rid of White Tongue: Best Home Remedies
If a white tongue is not a symptom of any disease that requires a medical treatment, you can quickly get rid of it thanks to several natural, home remedies.
1. Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe Vera has wonderful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. Therefore, it can successfully eliminate the problem of a white tongue, especially if it also causes bad breath. In fact, Aloe Vera is often used in treating various oral conditions.
It’s also very easy to use as you only need two tablespoons of Aloe Vera juice per time. Swish one tablespoon for a few minutes in your mouth and spit it out. Then drink the other tablespoon of the juice. You can follow this procedure a few times a day for around two weeks. After that time the problem of a white tongue should be eliminated.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen Peroxide is a powerful substance with wonderful antibacterial qualities. Thus, it can effectively kill the bacteria that have built up on your tongue. Additionally, it will have a positive effect on your teeth too as it will make them whiter. There are different hydrogen peroxide solutions available, but for oral cavity, three percent would be the best option.
In order to prepare a remedial mouthwash, you need one part of hydrogen peroxide and two parts of water. Soak a toothbrush in this mixture and scrape the tongue, but be gentle. Then thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water. You can follow the procedure even four times a day. Remember, though, not to swallow hydrogen peroxide.
3. Oil Pulling
The technique of oil pulling comes from an old Ayurvedic tradition and it can help you get rid of a white tongue especially if it’s caused by oral thrush or other yeast infections. What’s more, oil pulling may also help you clean your organism from toxins.
The technique of oil pulling should be done in the morning, when your stomach is still empty and you haven’t brushed your teeth yet. You can use coconut oil or sesame oil here.
You just need to put one tablespoon of a chosen oil in the mouth and swish it for fifteen minutes. Do it thoroughly so that the oil gets between your teeth and under your tongue, but don’t swallow or gargle it.
After about fifteen minutes the oil should turn milky or yellow which is a sign that the toxins were removed from your mouth. Now you can spit the oil out, rinse your mouth with warm water and brush your teeth. Do it once a day until you see that a white coating on your tongue has reduced.
4. Vegetable Glycerin
If the problem of a white tongue appeared mainly as a consequence of dry mouth, vegetable glycerin might turn out to be very effective. It can also help if you suffer from bad breath. You will find vegetable glycerin in the shops with healthy food.
Just apply a small amount of vegetable glycerin on your tongue and gently brush it with a soft toothbrush for a few minutes. Wash it off with warm water. Repeat it twice a day until your tongue turns pink once again.
5. Take Probiotics
If a white tongue is caused by the development of candida fungus, taking probiotics might be a good idea as they are rich in L. acidophilus and B. lactis cultures. They can effectively control the development of fungi and bacteria in your oral cavity.
You can take the powder from a probiotic capsule and mix it with some water. Brush your teeth with the use of your regular toothpaste and then use the mixture as a mouthwash. Swish your mouth with it and then swallow it. You should drink a glass of water afterwards. Do it once a day for a week.
You can also include probiotics into your daily diet in the form of a natural yogurt. However, choose the one that contains live cultures. You should drink one cup of the yogurt a day. Of course, you can also take capsules with probiotic three times every day.
6. Use Salt
Salt is probably one of the cheapest and at the same most effective remedies for a white-coated tongue. It can naturally scrap all the debris from your tongue. What’s more, salt has wonderful antiseptic qualities and it can eliminate bacteria which are responsible for bad breath.
Salt is also very easy to use. Just apply some salt on your white tongue and gently scrub it with a toothbrush for about a minute. Wash it off with warm water. Do it twice a day and after a week you should see a significant difference. You can also prepare a mouthwash with salt. Just add one teaspoon of salt to a glass of water. Use it to gargle a few times a day and you should quickly get rid of a white tongue.
7. Baking Soda
Baking soda is another cheap way to get rid of a white tongue quickly. It’s a natural exfoliator, which can wonderfully clean your tongue from all the debris and dead cells. It can also neutralize acids in your oral cavity, which will help you to maintain a good pH level in your mouth.
You can use baking soda in the form of a paste. To obtain it you need to mix it with a little amount of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Apply it on your toothbrush and rub your tongue with it. Then wash it off with warm water. It’s enough to do it once a day to get rid of the problem quickly.
You can also mix ½ teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and use the mixture as a natural mouthwash. Use it twice a day after brushing your teeth. It will eliminate a white coating from your tongue and reduce bad breath.
Turmeric contains a very powerful compound known as curcumin. It has wonderful antibacterial properties which can effectively remove the bacteria from your tongue and prevent its further development.
Prepare your own paste by mixing ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder with a little bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Apply the mixture on your tongue and rub it with a toothbrush for a few minutes. Wash it off with warm water. It will be enough to follow the procedure once a day to get rid of a white tongue quickly.
Another option is to add ½ teaspoon of turmeric to a glass of water. Use it as a mouthwash twice a day and you will soon forget about a white tongue.
9. Indian Lilac
A less known, but very effective remedy to a coated tongue is Indian lilac, also called neem. It can effectively clean your tongue from fungus, bacteria, and yeast due to its wonderful antibacterial and antifungal properties. It’s also believed that neem can purify your blood from toxins. You will find Indian lilac in a store with herbs or healthy food.
Pour a glass of water to a pot and add there one tablespoon of dried neem leaves. Boil it until the water reduces to about a half of it. When it cools down, use it as a mouthwash, but remember to rinse your mouth with water afterwards. Repeat it twice a day and you will quickly get rid of a white tongue.
10. Colloidal Silver
If a white coating on your tongue appeared due to yeast development in your mouth, colloidal silver might turn out to be very effective. It has antifungal and antimicrobial qualities, and it’s safe for your oral cavity. It can eliminate bad breath too.
Mix one part of colloidal silver with one part of water. Put it in your mouth and swish for about five minutes. After that time spit the mixture out and wash your mouth with water. Repeat it at least twice a day to eliminate the problem of a white tongue.
Other Treatment Options
If a white-coated tongue is not a symptom of any disease, you should get rid of the problem quickly using one of the above described solutions. What’s more, it’s often just enough to drink a lot of water to clean your tongue from the coating.
However, if a white tongue is a sign of some disease, then the treatment depends on the condition. Remember, though, that only your doctor can give you the right diagnosis.
If what you’ve been suffering from is leukoplakia, you probably won’t need any special treatment. Usually it’s just enough to have a regular check-up at your dentist’s to control it. However, if you don’t want your condition to get worse, you should give up smoking and avoid alcohol.
Oral lichen planus doesn’t need any special treatment as well. However, if it doesn’t clear on its own, your doctor will recommend you some steroid spray to your mouth. You can also dissolve steroid pills in water and use the solution as a mouthwash.
Oral thrush usually needs some antifungal medicines, such as a lozenge, a pill, a gel, or a liquid that can be applied on your tongue. You should also take supplements with probiotics or drink one cup of probiotic yogurt a day as it can help you restore the balance of good bacteria in your mouth.
However, in case of oral thrush, you should avoid other dairy products and sugar. Instead you should include spices that have antifungal qualities into your diet. These include cloves, sage, cinnamon, oregano, and garlic. Make sure that you provide your organism with a proper amount of vitamin C as well.
Syphilis requires an antibiotic therapy. The most common one is penicillin taken in one dose only. You may have to take it longer if you have been suffering from syphilis from more than a year.
How to Prevent White Tongue
Once you get rid of the problem with a white tongue, you should also know what measures to take in order to avoid it in the future. The majority of the tips is connected with introducing some good changes into your everyday life. Often, it’s just enough to drink a lot of water and have a healthy diet to prevent the problem permanently.
1. Stay Hydrated
The most common causes of a white coating on your tongue are dry mouth and dehydration. We are often unware of the fact how easily we can get dehydrated. Actually, every time you feel thirsty means that you are dehydrated. Therefore, to avoid it you should drink water throughout the whole day, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Of course, the amount of water you drink on a daily basis will also depend on the climate you live in, how active you are, and how much you weigh. However, on average, you should drink about eight glasses of liquids a day. Always have a small bottle of water in your bag so drinking water will become a routine for you.
If you are seriously dehydrated, you may observe such symptoms as headaches, urinating infrequently, or your urine may be dark. You may also feel exhausted.
2. Give Up Smoking
Smoke from cigarettes contains a lot of chemicals, which are harmful for the tissues in your oral cavity. Moreover, when you smoke, you increase the risk of developing bumps or inflammation on the surface of your tongue. That, in consequence, makes it easy for all the debris to accumulate on your tongue. Bacteria just love such an environment.
3. Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol is another common culprit of bumps and a white coating on your tongue. When you drink alcohol regularly, your tongue may get inflamed easily and there is a higher risk of developing a white coating.
What’s more, drinking alcohol contributes to dehydration, which is also a cause of a white-coated tongue. Therefore, drink alcohol only on special occasions and even then drink it together with a large amount of water.
4. Take Care of Your Oral Cavity
Proper oral hygiene is crucial if you want to prevent a white tongue. This is actually the best way to eliminate various bacteria from your mouth.
Therefore, never skip brushing your teeth and do it thoroughly at least twice a day or even after every meal. When you brush your teeth in the morning, don’t forget about brushing your tongue too. After you brush your teeth you should rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash.
Optionally, you can prepare your own mouth wash with salt. You just need to add about ½ teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water. When you put it in your mouth, don’t spit it out immediately, but hold it for a moment in your mouth and swish it. It’s also good to gargle with your head back. Don’t swallow the mixture, but just spit it out.
If you don’t want to use any mouthwash, at least gargle with water. If you often deal with a white tongue, your dentist may prescribe you a stronger mouthwash too.
It’s also important to choose a good quality, fluoride toothpaste and a toothbrush with a soft bristle. You should floss your teeth at least once a day too. Moreover, your dentist should check your oral cavity every six months.
5. React Quickly
Every time you notice the first white patches on your tongue, you should try to remove them quickly. You can simply use your regular toothbrush to do it. It’s worth using a toothpaste as it will also eliminate bad breath. When brushing your tongue remember to be gentle, though, as otherwise you may irritate your tongue, which might be painful.
You may also buy a special toothbrush equipped in a tongue scraper on the back. You can use it to scrape the debris and dead cells from your tongue. Don’t reach too far into your throat, though, as you may gag yourself. Also, don’t press the scraper too hard as if you cause irritation, you may develop an infection in your oral cavity.
You must also understand that it’s better to prevent the problem than later cure it. Therefore, pay attention to your everyday diet too. It should be rich in fruit and vegetables as they naturally hydrate your organism and they provide it with vitamins and minerals. They will make your immune system strong and will create an environment in your mouth that bacteria don’t like to develop in.
When to Seek Medical Help
If a white coating on your tongue is the only symptom you’ve observed, you probably don’t need your doctor’s help. However, if the problem doesn’t go away after a few weeks, you should make an appointment.
Don’t postpone the visit if you’ve been suffering from other symptoms such as a painful tongue or a burning sensation in your mouth. Any open wounds in your oral cavity should be checked by your doctor immediately. Problems with swallowing, talking, or chewing require an immediate consultation with a doctor. A white tongue should also be diagnosed by a specialist if it appears together with a skin rash, fever, or weight loss.