White tongue : Causes and Treatments

a white tongueThe tongue, one of the strongest muscles in the human body, is also the most sensitive to touch. Without the tongue we cannot talk or eat, two of the things we spend most of our lives doing. In some ancient traditional medical practices the tongue is considered important not only in diagnosing health problems but also in deciding the kind of treatment required. Due to this and other reasons, white tongue, though sometimes a result of poor oral hygiene, can be a cause for alarm as it could be a sign of more serious health issues, such as oral thrush.

Why is my tongue white?

A human tongue, if healthy, is pink in color and rough to the touch due to the small nodules, known as papillae, covering the surface. When dead cells, bacteria, or pieces of food are trapped between these nodules, the tongue turns white. Most times a white tongue means little and only lasts for a while but it could also mean the tongue is infected. White tongue can occur due to any of a number of reasons including fever, smoking, drinking, heart disease, adverse reaction to medication and so on. But what causes white tongue, mostly, is dehydration or dry mouth. Dry mouth encourages the growth of bacteria, being a suitable environment for them to breed. Poor oral hygiene, such as not brushing the teeth and tongue daily, also raises the likelihood of developing white tongue.

White tongue, along with fatigue and skin infection, is one of the symptoms of candida. When candida, a fungus that lives in the mouth and is responsible for yeast infections, overgrows and spreads it causes white tongue, lesions, and bleeding. Such accumulation of candida in the mouth may lead to oral thrush. Strep throat is also commonly heralded by a combination of white tongue and sore throat. If white tongue cannot be gotten rid of by brushing or application of basic antifungal medication, it might be indicative of more urgent medical conditions such as syphilis, HIV/AIDs, gum disease, leukoplakia, and geographic tongue.

Most cases of white tongue can be dealt with the use of some natural remedies.

Probiotics for White Tongue

An imbalance of healthy gut bacteria often results in white tongue and oral thrush. probiotic supplements and foods are useful in treating infections caused by candida and also work to regulate the balance of gut bacteria. Research has shown that probiotic bacteria is effective for oral health because they block the attachment of unwanted microbes thus preventing inflammation of the papillae as well as bacteria growth on the surface of the tongue.

Baking soda for White Tongue

The uses of baking soda are endless and, in addition to lemon juice, it comes in handy in treating white tongue. Brushing your tongue and mouth with a paste made by mixing baking soda and lemon juice is a tried and tested remedy for white tongue as baking soda removes all food debris or dead cells on the tongue and neutralizes acids, thereby balancing pH levels in the mouth. Baking soda also significantly disrupts the activity of Streptococcus, the bacteria that causes strep throat.

Oil Pulling for White Tongue

In Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional Indian medical system, it is believed that sections of the tongue connects to organs in the body. Thus, the purpose of coconut oil pulling is to clean the body system by ridding the mouth of bacteria and toxins. Oil pulling has proved to be effective in treating halitosis and in preventing the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth. Oil pulling is done by depositing a spoonful of oil in the mouth and swishing for about 10 to 20 minutes, after which the mouth is rinsed with warm water and brushed. Although other oils can be used, it is advisable to use coconut oil as it’s more effective and kills fungus like candida.

Sea salt for White Tongue

Sea salt is rough in texture and has natural antibacterial properties. The minerals present in it can help to balance the fluids in our cells. Gargle sea salt with water to kill bacteria and remove any layers or coating on the tongue. Afterwards, brush the teeth and tongue using sea salt in place of toothpaste.

Aloe vera for White Tongue

Aloe vera is popular for its many functions and effectiveness in treating skin infections, wounds, and burns. The enzymes in aloe vera are useful for replenishing skin tissue and discarding dead cells. Its antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory nature also makes aloe vera a possible remedy for white tongue. Gargle and swish one spoonful of aloe vera juice twice daily until the tongue is restored to its original color.

Oregano oil for White Tongue

In addition to being a natural antibiotic, oregano oil also possesses antiviral, antiparasitic, and antioxidant properties. Scientific study has also revealed that oregano oil’s antifungal nature can protect against yeast infections caused by candida, making it a viable substitute for other conventional treatments of oral thrush; adverse reactions to which sometimes cause white tongue.

Pau D’arco Tea for White Tongue

Pau D’arco tea naturally kills excess candida in the mouth due to its anti-inflammatory and antifungal features. pau d’arco tea is made by soaking peruvian bark in boiling water for 20 minutes, then turning off the heat and leaving it to cool for about an hour. The liquid thus derived if drunk two or three times daily, is effective in treating white tongue and oral thrush.

Tongue scraping for White Tongue

Tongue scraping is an Ayurvedic medical practice designed to remove bacteria and dead cells in the mouth. Tongue scraping not only clears the layer of white coating on the tongue but also improves breath by preventing excess production of chemicals that cause foul breath. Does tongue scraping help bad breath? The aforementioned reasons definitely make a case that tongue scraping helps with bad breath.

Tongue hygiene

Prevention they say is better than cure. As such it is preferable to prevent white tongue altogether by maintaining a good oral hygiene, brushing the teeth, tongue, and gums twice daily, and flossing regularly to dislodge bits of food that might later accumulate on the surface of the tongue.

Usually, what causes white tongue is benign and can be quickly corrected. If, after applying the recommended remedies you’re still left asking ‘why is my tongue white?, then it is necessary to get checked by a professional, as this might be a sign of a serious health issue.