One of the strongest muscles in the body is the tongue, which we use for swallowing food, tasting food and, of course, talking! As far back as ancient Chinese medicine, the tongue has played an important role in determining and treating various health conditions. Having a white tongue is a warning sign of possible health problems, such as poor oral hygiene or oral thrush. While it has an unpleasant appearance and can be uncomfortable, it is perfectly treatable.
Millions of people experience the sore white coating and burning sensation on the tongue. Although it’s a rare condition, it can still be an alarming, and it’s important to address it immediately as it could be an indication of a more serious condition. While it won’t be treated immediately, patience and dedication can go a long way!
What is White Tongue?
White tongue is a condition characterized by the formation of plaque or a white coat on top of the tongue. The appearance comes from an accumulation of dead cells and bacteria, which is accrued between the tongue’s papillae, making them become inflamed and separated. While this inflammation is often short and not dangerous, it’s not good to ignore the condition.
White tongue is not just limited to the tongue. It can leave your entire mouth prone to other infections, and the bacteria lodged between the papillae can have more serious side effects
What Causes White Tongue?
Here are some of the most common causes and risk factors for white tongue:
- Oral cancer: different kinds of oral cancer and some autoimmune diseases may result in an immune system which leaves the mouth compromised, leaving the tongue more prone to infections such as white tongue.
- Spicy foods: regular addition of peppers and various spices in foods may cause inflammation of the tongue.
- Medications: various steroids and antibiotics may lead to white tongue, since they conciliate the bacterial balance of the body and the mouth. This will make it much harder for the mouth to get rid of the bacterial pathogens.
- Irritation and injury: scraping the tongue too much may cause small abrasions on the tongue – thus leading to white tongue.
- Environmental irritants: various pollutants and irritants may get lodged into the tongue and stimulate a response. The succeeding inflammation may leave the tongue at risk of various bacteria and debris.
- Dehydration: consuming little water is not a good habit. This may cause inflammation in various parts of the body, including the tongue.
- Heart condition: the appearance of a white tongue may be an indication of an underlying condition of the heart.
- Dietary choices: eating a lot of soft or mushy foods may accumulate into a coating on the tongue.
- Alcohol: consuming an excessive amount of alcohol may cause dryness of the mouth. When the tongue is dry, it may become irritated and inflamed.
- Smoking: tobacco may cause inflammation in the mouth because of the chemicals and harsh smoke associated with it.
Treatments for White Tongue
Here are some of the most effective treatments for white tongue:
Oil pulling. This involves holding swishing oil around the mouth for 10 to 20 minutes, drawing out bacteria and neutralizing pathogens.
Baking soda. This is an exfoliant by nature which may help scrape out the hard-to-reach substances and debris in the mouth. It also has high alkaline level, ensuring it maintains the mouth’s pH balance and optimizes salivary function.
Oral flushing. Gargling mouthwash may help clear out the build-up of any dead cells or debris in the mouth.
Brushing the tongue. This one of the simplest treatments for white tongue. Just scrub the tongue’s top part and flush out the debris to eliminate the white coating and dead cells.
Saliva tablets. These are effective over-the-counter medicines you can use to alleviate a dry mouth, which can lead to white tongue.