White Tongue: Causes and how it is treated

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Through the study of the human tongue it is possible to find out the presence of diseases in the organism. Therefore, having a white tongue, although it is not a symptom that should cause excessive concern, can be an unmistakable sign of health problems that should be controlled

Glossodiagnosis is a science that allows the diagnosis of different diseases through changes in the color and texture of the tongue. Therefore, when you go to the doctor, he/she asks you to take out your tongue and examines it. This technique is very effective in determining if something is not working properly in the body.

Below, you will learn about the most common causes of white tongue and the correct way to treat this symptom.

What is white tongue?

The tongue, under normal conditions, should always have a pinkish appearance, with a thin layer of fur on it. Therefore, white tongue can be a sign of the presence of a disease in various organs, such as the liver or stomach. However, it also warns of possible oral diseases.

The term white tongue describes any area of the tongue that has a grayish-white coating, it can be its entire surface, or its appearance can occur in some areas resembling patches.

If you have a white tongue, it is clearly a symptom of a health problem that must be diagnosed. Therefore, you should be alert to any change in color or texture of the tongue.

Causes of white tongue

The most common cause of a white tongue is poor oral hygiene. The accumulation of germs and cells in the papillae can lead to a change in the color of the tongue

However, there are other reasons that can generate this symptom, such as:

  • Oral lichen planus. This is an inflammatory condition that can affect the mouth and causes thick white patches of skin to appear in the mouth and on the tongue.
  • Leukoplakia. It can cause thick white patches to form on the tongue and mouth. It is caused by irritants such as tobacco and alcohol, or by inflammatory conditions and irritation of the teeth.
  • Oral Candidiasis. It is a fungal infection caused by the candidiasis yeast. It causes patches to develop in the mouth and on the tongue, white in color and with an unpleasant taste.
  • Syphilis. This sexually transmitted disease when left untreated can cause white patches on the tongue and mouth sores
  • Stomach problems. Gastritis is one of the stomach problems that generate a change of color on the tongue.
  • Liver disorders. Liver malfunction can cause the mouth to become pasty and the tongue to turn white.

Treatment of white tongue

The most important thing when white tongue is present is to detect the primary cause. Thus, based on the initial diagnosis, physicians plan the most appropriate oral protocol to address the problem.

If the underlying problem is poor oral hygiene, then the solution lies in improving dental cleanliness. But if other pathologies are causing the white tongue, the treatments applied may be the following:

  • Oral candidiasis. It should be treated with antifungal drugs, as oral drops, for 1 or 2 weeks.
  • Oral lichen planus. It is treated with corticosteroids if it is severe, but in many cases, it is simply controlled by the dentist.
  • Syphilis. Usually treated with penicillin which kills the bacteria that cause the disease

In rare cases, a white tongue is an indication of a serious underlying condition. So, if the treatment plan established by a physician is followed, this symptom and its underlying problem can most likely be cured in the short term.

Natural treatments for white tongue

Probiotics are found in fermented foods and beverages such as kimchi, pickles and kombucha, and yogurt often contains probiotics. These are an effective way to influence oral symptoms such as white tongue

The European Journal of Dentistry indicated that the bacteria in probiotics can occupy the mouth and intestines, helping to counteract yeast infections and other strains of bacteria.

On the other hand, adding baking soda to the toothbrush and brushing the tongue, teeth and gums reduces bacteria that cause white tongue, such as Streptococcus and Candida.

Finally, eating garlic raw or with a little olive oil can help the body counteract infections caused by Candida. The compound called allicin, present in garlic, has been found to be effective in eradicating Candida albicans.

How to prevent white tongue?

Although it is not always possible to prevent white tongue, a number of measures can be taken to reduce the likelihood of this symptom. Among these are the following

  • Efficient oral hygiene. Brushing teeth after every meal. In addition, eliminate the bacteria that lodge in more complicated areas using tools such as oral irrigators, interproximal brushes and dental floss. It is also recommended to use a good mouthwash that has a protective and antiseptic effect
  • Avoid unhealthy habits. Lifestyle changes, such as giving up smoking and excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, can help prevent white tongue
  • Visit the dentist regularly. A visit to the dentist every 6 months is recommended. It is also important for people to report any worrisome symptoms to their health care provider before they worsen so that proper diagnosis and treatment can be obtained.

White tongue is always a symptom of other health problems that need to be determined, as well as an indication of poor oral hygiene habits or unhealthy lifestyles. While there is no cause for alarm, medical attention should be sought to correct the root cause.

Isaac Escudero Bermudez
Isaac Escudero Bermudezhttps://www.google.com/search?kgmid=/g/11p5jlt4n9
Degree in Dentistry from the University of Valencia and Master's Degree from the University of Alcalá. Doctorate and committed to Human Health

Aunque pueda contener afirmaciones, datos o apuntes procedentes de instituciones o profesionales sanitarios y la información contenida en PharmaSalud esté redactada por profesionales en medicina, recomendamos al lector que cualquier duda relacionada con la salud sea consultada con un profesional del ámbito sanitario.

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