White tongue refers to the white coat on the tongue surface. It is associated with dead cells, bacteria, and debris that are cradled between the inflamed papillae on the tongue. It may be unsightly for some and it may signal a disorder in the oral mucosa or in the body. The following are the causes, signs and symptoms, and remedies for white tongue.
White tongue has many causes. According to Mayo Clinic, the condition results from the overgrowth and swelling of the papillae, the fingerlike projections on the surface of the tongue. As per the publication, this coating is due to lodging of accumulated bacteria, debris, and dead cells between the enlarged and swollen papillae. The projections become inflamed due to poor oral hygiene, congenital heart disease, dry mouth, smoking, alcohol use, oral tobacco use, mouth breathing, mechanical irritation from dental appliances, low fiber diet, and fever.
Signs and Symptoms
White tongue is merely characterized by whitening of the tongue. Upon checking, it can be seen that the tongue surface is coated of debris and bacteria, as per Medicine Net. Dry mouth is an associated symptom, since it can also lead to the condition. The white spots or patches on the surface are attributed to irritation, infection, or chronic inflammation of the surface. Signs and conditions of conditions like sexually-transmitted diseases may also manifest, if such conditions stand as root of the white tongue. According to Mayo Clinic, medical consult is important if the tongue hurts, the condition lasts for more than a few weeks, and when concerns about the tongue changes arise.
While medications may be prescribed to manage white tongue, remedies can also be done to manage the condition.
One remedy for white tongue is salt. According to Top 10 Home Remedies, salt acts as a natural tongue scrape due to its coarse texture; thus, it is capable of removing debris and dead cells. To add, salt has an antiseptic property, which kills bacteria that case bad breath. As per the publication, salt is sprinkled on the white tongue and is scrubbed gently with a toothbrush for a minute. Then, it is rinsed thoroughly with warm water. It is done twice a day to achieve optimum results. As an option, the person may also mix a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Then, it is gargled thoroughly and is spit out. The alternative remedy is done multiple times a day until satisfactory results.
Another remedy for white tongue is garlic. According to Dr. Axe, garlic has antifungal properties, such as allicin; it is one of the active garlic compounds that yields anticandidal effects. With this, garlic is considered as effective as fluconazole, an anti-fungal medication. As per the publication, once clove of raw garlic is taken per day. As an option, organic raw garlic supplement may be taken; this makes it an effective natural treatment for white tongue.
Since dry mouth is one of the causes of white tongue, agents that will make it moist again are considered as remedies. According to Oracoat, agents like 500 mg xylitoland soothing oral lubricant can be placed on a tooth or gums in the mouth to coat them; this stimulates the salivary glands to produce saliva that will provide a short relief for the condition. This way, the person’s discomfort will be relieved.
White tongue may indicate conditions like infection or dehydration, which may lead to complications if unresolved. Thus, it is best to seek medical consult from a doctor for proper assessment, planning, intervention, health education, and evaluation.