What does a white coating on tongue mean? A white coated tongue occurs when bacteria, fungi, debris and dead cells get trapped in enlarged or inflamed papillae that are found on the surface of your tongue. In most cases, this condition is harmless to your health and temporary. There is nothing to worry about when there is no any other sign of a serious disease.
However, in some cases, a white coated tongue can be symptomatic to underlying disease or infection that can be life threatening when left untreated. It is important to visit your health care provider to determine the cause of this condition when it is persistence or accompanied with other symptoms.
White coatings that is causes by harmless conditions can easily be removed by brushing or scrapping your tongue regularly. However, those that results from more serious condition may require a doctor’s diagnosis and treatment.
Why do I have a White Coating on my Tongue?
There are various factors that can cause this tongue condition. They include the following:
Is a white tongue a sign of dehydration? Dehydration is the major cause of temporal white tongue coating and dry mouth. Taking water frequently can help to prevent this condition. Once you start feeling thirsty, it shows that your body is already dehydrated.
The other symptoms of dehydration includes dark colored urine, infrequent urination, headaches and exhaustion. Although you are supposed to take at least 8 glasses of water a day, the mount of water you need per day depends on your body weight, the activity you are doing and the climate of your area.
Smoking tobacco causes inflammation or swelling of the taste receptors. Bacteria, fungi, dead cells and other debris can get trapped in the swollen taste buds to cause an infection that results to white coating on tongue. The smoke from tobacco also contains chemicals that are harmful to mouth tissues and your health.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
In the first place excessive consumption of alcohol causes excessive dehydration of your body. As you read earlier dehydration is among the causes of white patches on the tongue.
Secondly, alcohol causes inflammation of the taste buds. Dirty, bacteria and fungi may get trapped in enlarged papillae to cause infections that leads to white coating. Reduce or avoid alcohol consumption and focus on how you can get rid of the white patches.
- Poor oral hygiene
Practicing improper oral hygiene increases the amount of bacteria, fungi and other pathogenic micro-organisms that are found in your mouth. Poor hygiene can also lead to accumulation of dirty, bacteria and dead cells on the surface of your tongue. This may lead to white coating on tongue.
Improve your oral care hygiene. Brush your teeth after taking every meal and before going to bed. Floss your teeth frequently and use a high quality antiseptic mouthwash to clean your mouth. It helps to reduce the amount of bacteria that are found in your mouth.
- Oral thrush
Oral thrush is also known as candida, it is a yeast infection in the mouth as a result of fungus. This is the same fungus that causes vaginal yeast infection. This condition causes white patches that resembles a cottage cheese to develop on the mouth surface including the tongue.
There are various factors that increases the chances of developing oral thrush. They include the following:
- Having a weak immune system
- Other body conditions like diabetes
- It is common among infants and elderly people
- Taking inhaled steroids for conditions like asthma or lung infections
- Wearing of dentures
- Often use of antibiotics.
It is recommended to visit your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment when you suspect having oral thrush. To restore a mouth that is damaged from oral thrush, take plain yogurt, probiotic supplements and antifungal medicines.
A part from dehydration that is the common cause of white patches in mouth, leukoplakia can also lead to white coated tongue. This condition causes excessively growth of cells in the mouth. Other parts of the mouth can also be affected by this condition.
Leukoplakia results from irritations of the tongue especially from smoking tobacco. This condition is not dangerous on its own although there is chances of developing mouth cancer later in life if not treated. It is therefore important to visit your doctor for treatment when you notice overproducing cells in the mouth.
- Oral lichen planus
This is another cause of white coating on tongue. It causes several white raised lines to develop on the tongue. Other parts of your mouth can also get affected when suffering from this condition. The exact cause of this condition is not known but it is linked to low body immune system.
Mild cases of this condition does not cause discomfort. However, a severe condition can result to a burning sensation, inflammation or pain and other discomforts. Severe oral lichen planus can be managed by using a high quality mouthwash to clean the mouth.
This is a bacterial infection that is transmitted through sexual contact. It spreads from one person to the other through direct contact with open sores on skin or mucous membrane. It causes small painless sores to develop on genitals and rectum. They can also appear as white coating on tongue and other parts of the mouth as white painless sores.
After infection, syphilis bacteria can remain dormant in your body and reactivate again after a long time. If not treated, this infection can cause complications like brain damage and even death.
It is therefore recommended to visit your doctor when you suspect that you are infected. It can easily be treated using anti-biotic tablets or penicillin injection.
- Mouth cancer
Mouth cancer is also referred to as oral cancer or oral cavity cancer. It is in a category of head and neck cancer. It can develop on any part of your mouth including tongue, gums, lips, roof of mouth, floor of mouth, inside cheeks and lip.
When the tongue is affected, it begins in the flat squamous cells that are located on the surface of your tongue. It can be treated using surgery to remove the affected cells. Other treatments involves chemotherapy, radiotherapy and drug therapy.
Visit your healthcare provider for treatment when you notice overgrowth of some cells on your tongue or any other part of the mouth. Mouth or tongue cancer can easily be treated when noticed earlier.
- Geographic tongue
Geographic tongue is also among what causes white and flaky patches on the tongue. The patches resembles those that develops on the skin when suffering from eczema. It is believed that this condition occurs when your body is under stress.
What does White Patches on Tongue Mean?
Having white patches on the tongue is caused by various things. The common causes of this tongue condition includes excessive dehydration, smoking tobacco, excessive consumption of alcohol, poor oral hygiene, oral cancer, geographic tongue, leukoplakia, lichen planus, oral thrush and canker sores among other causes.
Some of the causes of white patches on tongue are characterized by other symptoms like inflammation or a burning sensation of the taste receptors, bad breath and swollen tongue. This difficulties can affect the daily functions of the tongue like speaking, tasting different elements in food, chewing and swallowing food.
White patches on tongue treatment depend with the cause. Less serious causes can be treated by making some lifestyle changes like avoiding smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, taking plenty of water to avoid dehydration and improving your oral hygiene.
Those that are causes by more serious condition requires a doctor’s diagnosis and treatment. The doctor will prescribe some medicines to use like antifungals, antibacterial or any other treatment depending with the test results.
Reasons for White Coating on Tongue and Bad Breath
White coated tongue and bad breath are common things that many people are struggling to eliminate. It is difficult for some people to smell their own breath, it is people who are around you that will feel it when you speak or yawn.
One way of finding out whether you have a bad breath is by asking your close friend to smell your breath. Alternatively, the best way to find out the smell of your breath is by checking the color of your tongue. A white coated tongue is usually accompanied by bad breath.
There are several obvious causes of white tongue and bad breath. They include the following:
- Improper oral healthcare
Poor oral healthcare can lead to accumulation of food particles, dead cells and other debris to accumulate between your teeth and on the tongue surface. The dirty mouth environment harbors bacteria and other micro-organisms that causes bad breath and white tongue coating.
It is recommended to brush your teeth using a brush and toothpaste after every meal and before going to bed. Also, use a high quality mouthwash to rinse your mouth. It helps to kill bacteria that causes white coatings and bad breath.
- Dry mouth
Dry mouth results from dehydration of the body that causes white coating on tongue. Inadequate saliva in the mouth inhibits the removal food particles from the mouth. Saliva also helps to kill harmful bacteria that causes different mouth conditions. Therefore its deficiencies can lead to bad breath and white patches.
- Certain foods
There are some foods that can lead to bad breath when eaten. The common ones includes red onions and garlic. When some particles are left in the mouth, they can lead to bad breath. Gargle some water in the mouth after eating a meal that contains garlic or red onions.
- Smoking tobacco
Bad breath and tongue patches is the common problem that is associated with tobacco smoking. It causes inflammation of the taste buds. Foo particles, dead skin cells and bacteria can get trapped in the enlarged papillae to cause white tongue coating and bad breath.
- Medical condition
There are various medical conditions that can lead to bad breath. Some of them included sinusitis. Tongue surgeries can also cause difficulties in performing proper oral care practices.
- Acid reflux condition
Regurgitation of food and other materials from the stomach to the mouth can also cause a bad breath and other mouth problems.
Can you get a White Tongue When Sick?
It is common to have a white coated tongue when sick. White coated tongue can be symptomatic to some conditions like candida, oral thrush, lupus, syphilis, leukoplakia, jaundice and liver congestion.
Some of this conditions are also accompanied with other symptoms like sore throat, fever, headache, tongue swelling, inflammation or pain and swollen lymph nodes. Some of this conditions may become severe and hence requires a doctor’s consultation.
What is a White Coating on Back of Tongue Sign of?
White coating at the back of your tongue is mostly caused by poor oral health. Some people may find it difficult to clean the whole tongue from the back due to the chocking effect of brush or tongue scrappers. Therefore most of us will start cleaning the tongue from the center instead of the back.
Apart from improper oral health, there are also other causes of white tongue coating as you read earlier. However, it is recommended to visit your doctor when this condition is accompanied with other symptoms like tongue swelling, inflammation, bleeding, pain or a burning sensation.
Why is my Tongue White and Sore
Various oral infections that results from bacteria, fungi and viruses can also cause a white coated tongue and a sore throat. For instance, fungus can cause oral yeast infection that affects the tongue and throat. Yeast infection is also known as oral thrush or candidiasis, it is caused by fungus candida.
Oral thrush commonly affects infants and elders due to their weak immune systems. Other factors that increases the risk of developing oral thrush includes, wearing dentures, recent intake of antibiotics and other body conditions like diabetes.
This oral fungal infection can be controlled by taking yogurt with live active cultures that helps to restore your oral balance. Severe infection requires doctor’s diagnosis and treatment. You may be given prescription antifungal medicines to take for a couple of days or weeks.
Bacterial infections like sinus and strep throat can cause white tongue and sore throat. They are usually accompanied with other symptoms that includes pain around eyes and nasal cavities, headache, nasal discharge, post-nasal drip, swollen lymph nodes fever and swollen tongue.
Viral infection like HIV and Aids can also cause white tongue and sore throat. There is no treatment for viral infections. However, you can take some ARVs to control the symptoms of such body conditions.
What is this White Coating on Tongue of Baby
Babies can also develop a white coated tongue due to normal food residues accumulation or as a result of underlying medical condition. Using a wet washcloth to wipe the tongue can help to determine whether the white coating is as a result of food residues or medical condition.
White residues that persist after wiping the baby’s tongue may be an indication of underlying medical condition. Oral thrush is the common condition that causes white patches on tongue, lips, inner side of cheeks and roof of mouth in babies under the age of 1 year due to their low body immune system.
Scarlet fever is another condition that causes white tongue coating in babies. This condition is also known as white strawberry tongue. It causes inflammation of the taste buds that are on the surface of the tongue. It is also characterized with other symptoms like fever, sore throat, rash and swollen lymph nodes.
The other causes includes, geographic tongue and coxsackievirus. It is important to take your baby to a healthcare provider to determine the exact cause of this tongue condition. Some causes can be life threatening when left untreated.
How to Get Rid of White Coating on Tongue
The tongue is a very important muscle that help in tasting different elements in food i.e. sweet, salty and sour. It also helps in speaking and swallowing food.
A healthy tongue is normally pink in color and fairly is structure. However, different conditions and circumstances can cause it to have a white coating that may lead to bad breath and other problems that affects its functions.
Therefore, it is important to get rid of the white coating on back of tongue and other areas that may be affected before it become severe.
However, when this condition persist after trying the various home remedy treatment, don’t hesitate to visit your healthcare provider to determine the cause and provide the necessary treatment. Here are the various tips of how to get rid of the white tongue:
- Take plenty of water to avoid dehydration
Dehydration is the common cause of temporal white coating on tongue. Taking small amount of water frequently can help to guard your tongue against this condition. Don’t wait to feel thirsty before taking water. Feeling thirsty means that your body is already dehydrated.
- Practice good oral hygiene
Ensure that you brush your teeth and clean your tongue using a tongue scrapper after taking every meal, clean your mouth thoroughly before going to bed. It is also important to swish a high quality anti-septic mouthwash in your mouth once or twice daily. It helps to kill harmful bacteria that causes infections.
- Avoid smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol
Smoking tobacco and excessive consumption of alcohol causes taste buds to become swollen and inflamed. Bacteria and dirty can get trapped in the inflamed taste buds to cause infection that results to white patches on tongue.
Alcohol also causes dehydration of the body which is another cause of white coatings on tongue. It is therefore important to quit smoking and consumption of alcohol and focus on treating your damaged tongue.
- Use salt to get rid of white tongue coating
Salt is an effective remedy on how to get rid of white coating on tongue. Its coarse texture act as a natural scrapper to remove dead cells and other debris that accumulates on the tongue to form a white coating. It also has anti-septic properties that helps to kill harmful bacteria in the mouth.
It is easy to use this remedy, you simply apply salt crystals on the surface of the tongue and use a soft toothbrush to remove the debris. Use this treatment twice daily until the tongue resumes its normal color. After this, gargle water into the mouth and spit out.
- Use vegetable glycerin
Vegetable glycerin is the best on how to clean the white stuff off your tongue. It helps to remove the white tongue coating, moisturizes dry mouth as well as getting rid of a bad breath. Put few drops of glycerin on the affected areas and use a soft bristle toothbrush to remove the white patches.
Use clean water to rinse your mouth thoroughly after brushing. Repeat this treatment 2-3 times daily until the tongue restores its normal color.
- Lemon juice for white coated tongue
Lemon juice has anti-septic properties that helps to kill bacteria and fungi that causes infections like oral thrush in the mouth and thus preventing and eliminating the white coatings on your tongue. Obtain some fresh lemon juice and swish in the mouth and spit it out. This treatment also helps to prevent bad breath.
- Use probiotics
Probiotics are also effective on how to get rid of white film on tongue. It contains L. acidophilus and B. lactic cultures which kills harmful bacteria and fungi in your mouth. To use this remedy, you simply mix probiotics powder with some water to make a solution.
After performing your routine dental or mouth care, use the probiotic solution as a mouthwash. Swish it in your mouth and swallow once a day. Then take a glass of water. Alternatively, you can go for probiotic supplements that are taken orally 3 times a day.
- Use hydrogen peroxide to get rid of white coated tongue
Hydrogen peroxide has both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that helps to get rid of bacteria and fungi that accumulates on the tongue to form a white coating. It also provides other advantage like whitening the teeth as well as eliminating bad breath in your mouth.
Using 3% hydrogen peroxide, prepare a solution by mixing one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide and two teaspoon of water. Dip a soft-bristle brush into the solution and use it to scrub your tongue. Spit the solution out and rinse your mouth with water. Repeat 3 times daily until the tongue resumes the normal color.
- Try oil pulling to remove the white coating
Oil pulling is an excellent remedy for white coating on tongue that was use from traditionally to get rid of a white tongue. This remedy works best especially when your tongue condition is as a result of oral thrush. It helps to remove the yeast and other toxins on the tongue.
To use this treatment, place some extra-virgin coconut oil on the tongue before brushing. Swish the oil in every corner of the mouth for about 15 minutes. Spit it out and rinse your mouth thoroughly using water. Repeat the treatment once daily until you get the best result.
- Use baking soda
Baking soda has exfoliating properties that helps to remove different materials that accumulates on the surface of the tongue. It also maintains the pH of the mouth by neutralizing the acids. To make this remedy more effective, mix some baking soda and lemon juice to make a paste.
Apply the paste on the tongue and use a soft-bristle brush to exfoliate the tongue. When done, spit it out and rise your mouth with water thoroughly. Use this treatment once a day. Alternatively, make a baking soda mouthwash by mixing it with water to make a solution and swish it in the mouth.
However, if your condition is persists after trying the above remedies, don’t hesitate to visit your healthcare provider to determine the exact cause of your condition.
White coating on tongue can be symptomatic to underlying life threatening conditions like oral cancer that requires a doctor’s treatment.
- Coated or white tongue: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coated-tongue/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- White tongue: http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/white-tongue/basics/causes/sym-20050676
- The white tongue, bad breath conundrum: http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/bad-breath/article/the-white-tongue-bad-breath-1215