White tongue is a common oral condition that is characterized by a white coating or patches on the surface of the tongue. This condition is typically caused by an accumulation of dead cells, bacteria, and debris on the tongue’s surface, and can be a sign of poor oral hygiene, infection, or other underlying health issues. If left untreated, white tongue can lead to bad breath, discomfort, and other complications. Fortunately, you can get rid of white tongue permanently using medications, lifestyle changes, home-made therapies, and preventative measures.
Understanding white tongue
White tongue, also known as white coating on the tongue, is a common condition that can affect people of all ages. A healthy tongue should be pink in color and have small, round nodules called papillae that cover its surface. The papillae contain the taste buds that allow us to taste flavors. A white tongue, on the other hand, is a condition in which a white coating or layer appears on the surface of the tongue, due to the buildup of bacteria, dead cells, and debris on the tongue, leading to an overgrowth of fungi or bacteria.
Causes of white tongue
Dental professionals claim that most of the cases diagnosed with a white tongue are due to dehydration or dry mouth, which allows the aggressive growth of candida, a fungus responsible for oral thrush or yeast infections. Generally, your mouth is a breeding ground for all kinds of microbes, including candida. But poor oral hygiene and other factors can cause it to accumulate and spread to the tongue, roof of the mouth, tonsils, back of throat, and gums, resulting in the symptoms associated with a white tongue, including redness, white lesions, and even bleeding.
The typical causes of a white tongue include:
- Poor oral hygiene: Failing to brush and floss regularly can lead to a buildup of bacteria and debris on the tongue’s surface.
- Dehydration and dry mouth: Not drinking enough water can lead to a dry mouth and a buildup of dead cells on the tongue.
- Smoking: Tobacco use can cause a white coating on the tongue and contribute to other oral health problems.
- Alcohol: Drinking alcohol can dehydrate the mouth and lead to a white coating on the tongue.
- Mouth breathing: Breathing through the mouth can cause the tongue to dry out and create a white coating.
- Certain medications: Some medications can cause dry mouth, which can contribute to a white coating on the tongue.
- Infections: Some infections, such as oral thrush, can cause white patches on the tongue.
- Underlying health conditions such as thrush, leukoplakia, or oral lichen planus
In some cases, white tongue can also be a symptom of an oral or systemic infection.
Symptoms of white tongue
While a white tongue is usually not a serious health concern, it can be a sign of an underlying condition that needs to be treated. In some cases, it can also cause bad breath, altered taste, or a burning or sore sensation in the mouth.
Other symptoms include:
- A white coating or patches on the surface of the tongue
- Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Dry mouth or difficulty swallowing
- Sore throat or throat irritation
- In some cases, pain or discomfort on the tongue
If left untreated, various complications can occur, including:
- Bad breath: The buildup of bacteria and debris on the tongue can cause a foul odor in the mouth.
- Discomfort: The white coating on the tongue can cause discomfort, especially if it is accompanied by pain or inflammation.
- Other health issues: In rare cases, white tongue may be a sign of an underlying health condition, such as oral cancer or an autoimmune disorder.
It is important to understand the causes and symptoms of white tongue in order to properly treat and prevent this condition. If you notice a persistent white coating on your tongue or experience any discomfort, it is important to seek advice from a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and best treatment options.
Medical treatments for white tongue
There are several treatment options available for white tongue, including both home remedies and medical treatments. Here are some options to consider:
A. Antifungal medication
If white tongue is caused by an oral yeast infection, antifungal medication may be prescribed to treat the infection. These medications work by killing the fungus responsible for the white coating on the tongue. This means that if the white coating on the tongue is caused by other factors, such as poor oral hygiene or an underlying health condition, other treatment options may be necessary.
The most commonly prescribed antifungal medication for white tongue is called nystatin. Nystatin is available in several forms, including liquid, tablet, and lozenge, and is usually taken orally. You will probably have to hold the lozenges in the mouth for about 15 to 30 minutes to allow it to dissolve completely. It’s not recommended to chew or swallow the lozenges whole, but you can swallow saliva as it dissolves in the mouth.
Other antifungal medications that may be used to treat white tongue include fluconazole, itraconazole, and clotrimazole.
The dosage and duration of treatment with antifungal medication will depend on the severity of the infection and the underlying cause of the white tongue. In most cases, treatment with antifungal medication is effective, and the white coating on the tongue will clear up within a few weeks. Make sure to follow the prescribed dosage and finish the entire course of medication, even if the symptoms improve before the medication is finished, to ensure that the infection is fully and permanently cleared.
B. Prescription mouthwash
In some cases, prescription mouthwash may be recommended to help reduce the bacteria in the mouth and treat white tongue. These mouthwashes typically contain antimicrobial or antifungal agents that help to kill the bacteria or fungi responsible for the white coating on the tongue.
Some prescription mouthwashes that may be used to treat white tongue include:
This is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial mouthwash that is commonly used to treat various oral infections, including white tongue. It works by disrupting the cell membrane of bacteria, causing them to die.
In addition to oral tablets and lozenges, nystatin is also available as an oral rinse. It is often used to treat white tongue caused by fungal infections.
This is an antifungal medication that can also be prescribed in the form of an oral rinse. It works by inhibiting the growth of the fungi responsible for the white coating on the tongue.
The specific mouthwash prescribed will depend on the underlying cause of the white tongue and the severity of the infection. Follow the instructions provided by the healthcare provider or pharmacist and use the mouthwash as directed. In some cases, a course of antibiotics may be necessary to treat the underlying infection.
Please note that while prescription mouthwashes can be effective in treating white tongue, they are typically not a long-term or permanent treatment option. Proper oral hygiene practices, such as regular brushing and tongue cleaning, as well as lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, may also be necessary to prevent the recurrence of white tongue.
C. Treatment of underlying health conditions
If white tongue is caused by an underlying health condition, such as diabetes or autoimmune disorders, treating the underlying condition can help resolve white tongue permanently. For example:
1. Oral thrush
Oral thrush is a fungal infection that can cause white tongue. Treatment involves antifungal medications, such as clotrimazole or nystatin, which can be prescribed by a healthcare provider.
2. Geographic tongue
Geographic tongue is a benign condition that causes areas of the tongue to appear white or discolored. While there is no cure, symptoms can be managed with regular oral hygiene and avoiding certain trigger foods, such as spicy or acidic foods.
Leukoplakia is a condition that causes white patches on the tongue and can be a sign of oral cancer. Treatment involves identifying and addressing the underlying cause, which may involve stopping tobacco use or addressing other risk factors.
4. Dry mouth
Dry mouth can be caused by medications or underlying health conditions, such as Sjogren’s syndrome. Treating the underlying cause and managing symptoms of dry mouth, such as with saliva substitutes, can help reduce the risk of white tongue.
5. Acid reflux
Acid reflux can cause stomach acid to back up into the mouth, which can lead to white tongue. Treating acid reflux with lifestyle changes, such as avoiding trigger foods and losing weight, as well as medications like proton pump inhibitors, can help reduce symptoms.
Consult a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment of any underlying health conditions that may be contributing to white tongue. By addressing these conditions, it is possible to get rid of white tongue permanently.
How to Get Rid of White Tongue Naturally at HomeMaintaining good oral hygiene at home is essential in the treatment and prevention of white tongue. There are several oral hygiene products and foods that can be used to help get rid of white tongue and prevent its recurrence. These include:
1. Tongue scraping and brushingUsing a tongue scraper can help remove the layer of bacteria and debris that can accumulate on the tongue and contribute to white tongue. Tongue scrapers come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be made of metal or plastic.
2. MouthwashMouthwashes containing antimicrobial or antifungal agents, such as chlorhexidine or nystatin, can be effective in killing the bacteria or fungi responsible for white tongue. Alcohol-based mouthwashes can also help reduce the bacteria in the mouth.
3. ToothbrushBrushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste can help remove bacteria and food particles that can contribute to white tongue. Some toothbrushes have bristles specifically designed to clean the tongue, while others have built-in tongue cleaners. Regularly brushing the tongue with a soft-bristled toothbrush can help remove bacteria and debris and prevent white tongue.
4. Baking soda and lemonBaking soda and lemons have natural antibacterial properties that can help kill the bacteria and fungi responsible for white tongue, in addition to neutralizing acids in the mouth to maintain optimal pH levels. Studies have revealed that baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) has significant inhibitory effect against Streptococcus mutans in saliva and plaque. In a study undertaken by the Dows Institute for Dental Research at the University of Iowa’s College of Dentistry, exposure to baking soda resulted in statistically significant reductions in the number of bacterial cells in the mouth. Simply mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a little lemon juice to make a thick paste. Then, using your toothbrush, brush your tongue and mouth with the blend at least once during the day for a week or more until you heal.
5. ProbioticsA bacterial imbalance in your intestines can cause oral thrush and a white tongue coating. Taking probiotic supplements and consuming probiotic foods can help restore the balance of bacteria in the mouth and prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria that can cause white tongue. Probiotic supplements or foods, such as yogurt or kefir, can be helpful in maintaining oral health. Several studies have demonstrated that probiotics can help to improve your oral health by inhibiting the adherence of harmful microorganisms. Because probiotic bacteria appear to alter both oral microbiota and immunological responses, they can help prevent tongue inflammation and bacterial growth on the tongue. To begin, take 1 tablespoon of yogurt and swish it about in your mouth for a few minutes. After that, scrape the region with a tongue cleaner, spit the saliva, and rinse the mouth with warm water. Do this every day until full recovery.
6. Sea salt rinseSea salt has natural antibacterial properties that make it ideal for getting rid of bacteria and debris that produce white tongue by gargling and swishing sea salt with water. Furthermore, the gritty texture of sea salt acts as an exfoliator, assisting in the removal of the white coating on the tongue. Unlike table salt, sea salt is less processed, leaving behind beneficial trace minerals and components that aid in maintaining optimum fluid balance in your body’s cells. Simply prepare a mouthwash by mixing sea salt and water, and then brush your teeth and tongue with sea salt after using the mouthwash.
7. GarlicGarlic has antifungal properties that make it a good natural therapy for white tongue. According to research, allicin, one of the active chemicals in garlic, has anti-candida properties and may be as efficient as fluconazole, a medicine used to treat fungal infections (including yeast infections) of the mouth. Take one clove of raw garlic per day or use an organic raw garlic supplement to cure white tongue, especially if it is caused by oral thrush or bacterial overgrowth.
8. Oil pullingSwishing coconut or sesame oil in the mouth for several minutes a day can help remove toxins and bacteria from the mouth and tongue. Coconut oil pulling is one of the most effective methods for removing bacteria from the mouth. This method of oral detoxification is widely utilized in Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda recommends oil pulling to cleanse the entire system because each part of the tongue is linked to different organs of the body. The oil draws toxins and debris from your mouth, resulting in a clean, antiseptic oral environment. According to research, oil pulling can be utilized as an effective therapy for maintaining and improving dental health. It has been found to be just as effective as mouthwash at reducing germs that can cause bacteria buildup in the mouth and white tongue. Although olive or sesame oil can also be used, the benefits of coconut oil are higher, which is why it is recommended for oil pulling. Coconut oil is easily absorbed and has the ability to kill candida. Simply swish a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes, spit the oil out, rinse your mouth with warm water, then brush your teeth as usual.
9. Oregano oilOwing to its unique blend of antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, oregano oil acts as a natural antibiotic for preventing white tongue caused by conventional antibiotics. According to a 2010 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Microbiology, oregano oil has strong antifungal activity against candida and could be used as an alternate treatment for oral thrush, a common cause of white tongue.
10. Aloe vera juiceAloe vera contains antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory qualities that make it ideal for treating infections, wounds, burns, and skin irritations. It also contains enzymes that aid in the removal of dead cells and the rebuilding of skin tissue. To get rid of the white coating on your tongue, swish one spoonful of aloe vera juice in your mouth two to three times a day until it disappears.
11. Colloidal silverUCLA Medical School research revealed that exposure to modest levels of colloidal silver, was successful in eliminating over 650 distinct disease-causing bacteria within minutes. Colloidal silver has antibacterial and antifungal qualities, which is why it is used to treat irritating and highly infectious viruses and bacteria such as pink eye, herpes, shingles, and HIV/AIDS. Another advantage of colloidal silver is that it decreases inflammation and accelerates cell healing. Swish a tablespoon of colloidal silver with equal parts water in your mouth for five minutes twice daily to get rid of white tongue.
12. TurmericTumeric is a natural remedy that has been used to treat a variety of health conditions, including white tongue. Here are a few methods of using turmeric to treat white tongue:
- Turmeric paste – Mix a small amount of turmeric powder with enough water or coconut oil to form a paste. Apply the paste to the tongue and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing with warm water. This can be done once or twice a day.
- Turmeric mouthwash – Mix a teaspoon of turmeric powder with warm water to create a mouthwash. Swish the mixture in your mouth for a few minutes before spitting it out. This can be done once a day.
- Turmeric tea – Brew a cup of turmeric tea and drink it once or twice a day. Turmeric tea can be made by boiling water and adding turmeric powder and honey to taste.
Lifestyle changes to prevent white tongue
In addition to the various treatment options for white tongue, making lifestyle changes can also help prevent it from occurring. Here are a few lifestyle changes that may help:
Practice good oral hygiene
Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day, in addition to brushing or scraping your tongue daily, can help prevent the buildup of bacteria on the tongue and other surfaces in the mouth.
Drinking plenty of water can help flush out bacteria and other toxins from the mouth, which can help prevent white tongue.
Limit sugary and acidic foods and drinks
Sugary and acidic foods and drinks can create an environment that is conducive to bacterial growth, which can contribute to white tongue.
Quit smoking and using tobacco products
Smoking and using tobacco products can cause dry mouth and increase the risk of developing white tongue.
Manage underlying health conditions
Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, HIV, and cancer, can increase the risk of developing white tongue. Managing these conditions effectively can help prevent white tongue.
Incorporate beneficial fruits in your diet
There are several fruits that may be beneficial in treating and preventing white tongue. Here are a few examples:
- Pineapple: Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which has natural anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation and promote healing in the mouth.
- Papaya: Like pineapple, papaya contains enzymes that can help break down and remove bacteria and dead cells from the tongue.
- Kiwi: Kiwi is rich in vitamin C, which can help boost the immune system and promote healing in the mouth.
- Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, are rich in antioxidants and other nutrients that can help promote overall oral health.
- Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, are high in vitamin C and other nutrients that can help boost the immune system and promote healing in the mouth.
Incorporating these fruits into your diet may help promote oral health and prevent the development of white tongue. However, it is important to remember that diet alone may not be enough to treat or prevent white tongue, and it is important to consult with your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment if you are experiencing symptoms.
By adopting these lifestyle changes, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing white tongue and promote overall oral health. If you do develop white tongue despite these efforts, it is important to consult your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
When to see a doctor
While white tongue is often a harmless condition that can be treated with home remedies, there are certain situations in which it is important to see a doctor, including:
- Persistent white patches on your tongue that do not go away with home treatment.
- Other symptoms in addition to white tongue, such as pain or difficulty swallowing.
- A weakened immune system due to a medical condition or medication.
- History of smoking or tobacco use, as this can increase the risk of oral cancer.
- If you have concerns about your oral health or have not had a dental exam in some time.
In general, if you are experiencing persistent white tongue or have concerns about your oral health, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider or dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment. They can help determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment options.