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What is White Tongue?

October 17, 2017

Woman Cleaning Her TongueHave you ever looked in the mirror while brushing or flossing your teeth only to be surprised by a tongue covered in a grayish-white film? You likely have white tongue. White tongue can either refer to a complete coating of the tongue or just patches of white coating. Many patients try to allow this condition to clear up on its own, and in some cases, this will happen. However, depending on the different causes of white tongue, you may need to visit a dentist for professional dentistry treatment.

What Causes White Tongue?

In most cases, patients experience white tongue due to poor oral hygiene. Every tongue has small bumps called papillae that can be inflamed when people do not properly care for their oral health allowing food, plaque, and cells to be stuck between the bumps. This gives the tongue a white appearance. Patients should be brushing and flossing daily, but they also need to brush their tongue, which many patients aren’t aware of. For these patients, adding tongue brushing to their daily oral hygiene is effective treatment. In addition to poor oral hygiene, some other causes of white tongue include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dehydration
  • Irritation by sharp teeth, braces, or dentures
  • Over consumption of alcohol
  • Tobacco use which can cause leukoplakia
  • Oral lichen planus is a skin rash that can appear white
  • Oral thrush is a fungal infection that causes the overproduction of Candida yeast which may coat the tongue
  • Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease with a wide range of symptoms including white tongue
  • Oral cancer can cause changes to any oral tissues including the tongue
  • Chronic inflammatory disorders may also lead to changes in tongue and soft tissue color or texture

How is it Treated?

In many cases, white tongue can be completely treated by improving your oral hygiene routine. Brush and floss diligently, brush or scrape the tongue at least once a day, and use an antimicrobial mouth rinse daily for about a week. If you still have noticeable white coating on the tongue, contact your dentist for professional medical treatment. Recommended treatments may include administering steroids, antifungal medications, or antibiotics. The dentist may also provide prescription mouth rinse, or encourage you to use a tongue scraper.

Meet Dr. Boyd

At the Fort Worth dental office of John G. Boyd, DDS, we are dedicated to helping patients achieve and maintain their healthiest smiles. The West 7th Smiles team is passionate about helping patients better understand their oral health. If you’re concerned you may be suffering from white tongue or any other oral health issues, please don’t hesitate to call our Fort Worth dental office. We’ll be happy to help you in any way we can, and our team always takes the time to help patients learn more about maintaining their oral health outside our office. You can also check our blog regularly to learn more about the services we provide at West 7th Smiles.

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