The sight of a white tongue reflected back at you in your bathroom mirror might look frightening, but this condition is usually harmless.
A white tongue refers to a white covering or coating on your tongue. Your whole tongue might be white, or you could just have white spots or patches on your tongue.
A white tongue is usually nothing to worry about. But on rare occasions, this symptom can warn of a more serious condition like an infection or early cancer.
That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your other symptoms and call your doctor if the white coating doesn’t go away in a couple of weeks.
Keep reading to learn more about why this happens and whether you should treat it.
Causes of White Tongue:
Here are some of the most common reasons why you might start getting a white tongue:
1. Poor Oral Hygiene:
When you are not too careful about your mouth and brushing is the least of your priorities, you might actually see your tongue turns white. This is due to the accumulation of bacteria that gets removed when you brush your teeth, or floss or use a tongue cleaner.
2. Dehydration or Dry Mouth:
When you do not regularly drink water or are constantly dehydrated, there is chance that you might get white tongue. This kind of a white tongue is a sure shot way to create a breeding ground for bacteria.
3. Tongue Infection also known as Oral Thrush:
Another reason why you might get a white tongue is due to the infection of the tongue called oral thrush. In this case there is a growth of the yeast bacteria ‘Candida’. It is actually normal to have candida on your tongue, but in some cases, the bacteria accumulates and in worst cases it spreads to the roof of the mouth, gums, tonsils and sometimes even to the back of the throat.
4. Reaction to certain kind of medication:
Not all medicine will cause such a reaction, but sometimes due to certain kind of medication you might develop a coating on your tongue.
5. Too much smoking and alcohol:
Smoking too much and a lot of alcohol consumption can also lead to your tongue getting that white coating. If you have been doing too much of the either of these, you should immediately reduce your intake too check whether your tongue returns to its original state.
Now that we know that there are tons of ways which might lead to your tongue getting white, here are some of the most common and telltale symptoms of white tongue and easy way to identify them:
- There are white patches on your tongue and they may or may not be evenly distributed
- You might also feel that there is discoloration of your tongue in different parts of the entire tongue
- Sometimes when the case of white tongue is severe, there might even be a coating or layer on the top of your tongue that might make it feel heavy
- If you are suffering from oral thrush, besides the white coating, you will also experience blisters in your mouth and throat and might also get fever
- Halitosis or the condition when your mouth has a strange smell might also be a symptom of white tongue.
Since these symptoms are very common, they will tell you whether you are actually suffering from white tongue or not. The best possible advice would be to seek medical attention as soon as possible but it is best not to let this symptom persist for a longer period of time.
The below section will give you some easy home remedies that can help you get rid of white tongue.
Home Remedies for White Tongue:
Here are 17 natural remedies to get rid of white tongue at home.
Things you need: Items that have probiotic bacteria- including curd
Directions: Just have curd every day!
How it works: Probiotic bacteria work on the oral microbes and the immune responses and thus they can help to prevent tongue inflammation and the growth of bacteria on the tongue
Tip: always try and use fresh curd to get the most of probiotic bacteria
2. Vegetable Glycerin:
Things you need: Available in most health food stores
- Use some vegetable glycerin on your tongue and lightly brush with a soft bristle brush.
- Rinse with warm water
How it works: vegetable glycerin works great on the oral bacteria and puts it under check
Tip: Use the glycerin twice a day for best results
3. Oil Pulling:
Things you need: Sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
- Every morning as soon as you get up, use a teaspoon full of any of the two oils and rinse your mouth thoroughly with it.
- Do this for at least 15 minutes till the oil turns milky.
- Spit out the oil and wash your mouth thoroughly.
How it works: Oil such as the above is great as an anti-bacterial agent and kills all the bad bacteria in your mouth
Tip: Make sure that you do not swallow or gargle with the oil and dispose it off once you are done rinsing it inside the mouth.
4. Aloe Vera Juice:
Things you need: Aloe vera juice- you can either extract it naturally from a plant or you can buy it from any health store
- Just take some of the juice inside your mouth and like oil pulling, swish this around your mouth
- Wash your mouth thoroughly after this
How it works: Aloe vera has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties that helps to remove the coating in your tongue
Tip: Whenever possible, use the extract of aloe vera instead of buying it from the market
5. Baking Soda:
Things you need: Baking soda and some lemon juice
- Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with lime juice till it becomes a paste
- Use this paste on your toothbrush and brush your teeth and tongue
How it works: Baking soda acts as an exfoliator and removes the white coating. It is also great to neutralize the pH inside your mouth and help the good bacteria to grow
Tip: Do not use the baking soda for too long inside your mouth
Things you need: Salt, especially the coarser kind, warm water
Directions: You can either use the salt directly on your tongue or brush it with a soft-bristled toothbrush or you can mix the salt with warm water and gargle
How it works: Salt acts as a natural scraper that can help remove the dead cells and debris from the tongue. It is also a great antiseptic and helps to kill the bad bacteria that may cause white tongue
Tip: If possible, use sea salt since it is coarser and can do a better job of scraping the debris off from the tongue
7. Hydrogen Peroxide:
Things you need: 3% Hydrogen Peroxide solution that can be bought from any medical store
- Use one part of the hydrogen peroxide solution with two parts of water and dip a toothbrush in this solution.
- Now use the toothbrush to gently scrape your tongue and spit out the solution from your mouth.
How it works: Hydrogen peroxide solution is very good for oral health and kills the bacteria on top of the tongue. It is also good for whitening teeth
Tip: Never swallow the solution and spit it out as soon as you are done.
Things you need: Turmeric powder, or grated pure turmeric and lime juice
- Mix turmeric powder and lime juice and make a smooth paste out of it.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently scrape your tongue with this paste
How it works: Turmeric has very good anti-bacterial properties and can be used to remove the white bacteria coating on the tongue
Tip: You can also gargle with turmeric powder and water solution for best results
9. Colloidal Silver:
Things you need: Colloidal silver solution, water
- Mix equal parts of colloidal silver solution and water and rinse around this solution inside your mouth.
- Do this at least once daily to alleviate bad breath and also remove white tongue
How it works: colloidal silver solution has anti-bacterial properties that can remove the overgrown bacteria and yeast in your tongue
Tip: Colloidal silver solution should not be swallowed and you should be very careful about it
10. Indian Lilac:
Things you need: Most people will only know Indian lilac by its most common name ‘neem’.
- Just get a few leaves from the neem tree and start drying the leaves.
- The dried leaves can then be used to get rid of the white coating in the tongue
- Add some dried leaves to boiled water and allow this solution to cool down.
- Once the solution has cooled, gargle with this water and rinse your mouth with warm water after this is done
How it works: Neem is excellent as an anti-bacterial and can be used to kill all the bacteria that might cause a white tongue. It is also good to flush out toxins from your body
Tip: Neem water is extremely bitter, so make sure you do not swallow this water
Things you need: A spoon of yogurt
Directions: Just apply a bit of this yogurt before sleeping at night and in the morning brush your teeth as you would normally do
How it works: Yogurt is a very powerful probiotic that can help to kill the bad bacteria that causes white tongue
Tip: Make yogurt a regular part of your diet to decrease the chances of getting white tongue
Things you need: A few garlic pods
Directions: Chew on some garlic pods before going to sleep
How it works: Garlic is known for its anti-fungal properties and can help remove a white tongue
Tip: Make sure you do not chew garlic pods before going out. The smell of garlic is a little overpowering and might not go down well with everyone around you
13. Tea Tree Oil:
Things you need: Get a mouthwash which has tea-tree oil extracts
Directions: Use this mouthwash as part of your daily dental regime and see white tongue disappear!
How it works: Tea tree oil is again very good as an anti-bacterial agent and can help kill bacteria-causing white tongue
Tip: You can also buy pure tea-tree oil extract, but it’s best to use a mouthwash because it is easily available and as potent.
14. Lemon Juice:
Things you need: Lemon juice mixed with some baking powder
- Use a spoon of lemon juice and mix it with a pinch of baking powder.
- Use this paste and rub it gently on your tongue.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly after this
How it works: The combination of baking soda and lemon juice acts as an anti-fungal and kills the yeast that may lead to a white tongue
Tip: You can also dilute some lemon juice with water and rinse your mouth regularly with this potion.
15. Sea Salt:
Things you need: Coarse Sea salt granules
- Take some sea salt granules and gently scrape your tongue with it.
- Wash your mouth after you are done
How it works: Sea salt is pretty coarse and can be used to scrape off the white parts from the tongue. It is also a great anti-bacterial agent
Tip: Make sure you use pure sea salt crystals for best results
16. Oregano Oil:
Things you need: Oregano oil
- Take a few drops of oregano oil and rinse your mouth with this oil.
- Wash off your mouth after you are done
How it works: Oregano oil is a natural antibiotic and has powerful anti-fungal properties that can kill the fungus that causes candida and thrush
Tip: Do not swallow the oregano oil. Rinse your mouth thoroughly after this
17. Stay Hydrated:
Things you need: A bottle of water
Directions: Just keep sipping water during the day- this might mean keeping a bottle of water near you at all times
How it works: When you are hydrated, the bacteria that breeds on your tongue does not get a chance to breed. Hence, your tongue is not white
Tip: keeping yourself hydrated is very important because it helps your body to function properly. Hydration is also necessary to prevent other diseases and also lose weight
Risk Factors Of White Tongue :
You might ignore the white tongue thinking that it’s not a big issue, but sometimes your white tongue may also be the indicator of a serious ailment. If you see that your white tongue has persisted for more than two weeks and is also causing you some discomfort, seek medication or professional medical help as soon as possible
When To Seek For Medical Help?
If the white tongue condition persists for more than two weeks and you have also started noticing that your tongue is getting heavier. The discoloration has reached your lips and throat and you are finding it difficult to speak.