Did you know that the tongue is one of the strongest muscles in the body? It’s actually the most sensitive place for our sense of touch, and it allows us to talk, taste food and swallow.
Plus, according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, the tongue plays an important role in determining and treatment health conditions. For that reason, white tongue can be viewed as a warning sign of a possible health issue, like oral thrush or poor oral hygiene.
There are simple, natural remedies that get rid of white tongue, get rid of bad breath and boost your oral health.
What Is White Tongue? Primary Causes + Risk Factors
A healthy tongue is pink and covered with papillae, small nodules that are on the surface of the tongue and have a rough texture. When your tongue appears white, that means food debris, bacteria and dead cells have been lodged between inflamed papillae. (1) White tongue is usually harmless and only temporary, but it can also be an indication of an infection or some serious conditions.
White tongue may be caused by the following factors:
poor oral hygiene
illness or infection
reaction to certain medications, including antibiotics or steroids
candida yeast infection (oral thrush)
smoking or tobacco use
spicy food, such as habanero and jalapeno peppers
congenital heart disease in adults
The most common cause of white tongue is dehydration or dry mouth, which is a breeding ground for bacteria. In fact, if you don’t diligently brush your tongue and teeth at least twice a day, you increase your risk of developing white tongue.
White tongue is often due to an overgrowth of candida, a fungus that causes yeast infections or oral thrush. It’s actually perfectly normal for the fungus candida to live in your mouth, but when it accumulates, it can spread to the roof of the mouth, gums, tongue, tonsils and back of the throat — creating white tongue, white lesions, redness and even bleeding.
Aside from white tongue, other candida symptoms include chronic fatigue, skin and nail fungal infections, and brain fog.
Sometimes, white tongue that cannot be scraped off and doesn’t go away after using antifungal treatments is the result of a more serious condition. A white tongue and sore throat may be symptoms of strep throat. White tongue may also be due to bacterial infections, such as syphilis or periodontal disease, or a chronic autoimmune disorder called oral lichen planus. HIV/AIDs, leukoplakia (when cells in the mouth grow excessively) and geographic tongue (reddish spots on the tongue with a white boarder) are other conditions that may cause white tongue or white patches on the tongue. These conditions require medical attention.