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Understanding White Tongue and How to Address It


Numerous factors can contribute to the occurrence of white tongue, occasionally accompanied by a disagreeable odor and dry mouth. While regular teeth brushing may resolve it in some cases, what steps should be taken if this proves ineffective?

❗ This article is solely for informational purposes and does not substitute for professional advice.

What white tongue is

The white coating on the tongue can manifest across its entirety, in specific areas, or as distinct spots. Concurrently, an unpleasant taste and odor may accompany this condition, resembling the appearance of small white hairs on the tongue’s surface. In reality, these are buds coated with organic particles, bacteria, and dead cells.

White or yellowish plaque on the tongue may arise from various factors such as irritation or infection. Typically, it resolves within a few days. However, if the condition persists for several weeks and is accompanied by pain during eating and speaking, consulting a doctor is advisable.

It’s essential to recognize that tongue discoloration isn’t limited to white. While a pink tongue is considered normal, a brown tongue indicates excessive coffee or tea consumption. A yellow tongue suggests liver issues, and a red tongue signals a deficiency in vitamin B.

Why the tongue becomes white


Typically, the white discoloration of the tongue is a result of the accumulation of bacteria, remnants of food, or dead cells trapped among the taste buds. Consequently, the buds may swell or become inflamed, leading to the development of white patches on the tongue’s surface.

In some cases, the formation of plaque is linked to an underlying medical condition. For instance, geographic tongue is a rare condition characterized by the appearance of white spots on the tongue. While its exact causes are unknown, it is often associated with the consumption of irritating foods. Additionally, it may be triggered by stress, illness, or hormonal changes.

Why white plaque appears on the tongue

Several factors increase the likelihood of white plaque formation on the tongue:

  1. Age
  2. Antibiotic use (especially when a fungal infection is present in the mouth, leading to white-yellow plaque)
  3. Inadequate intake of fruits, vegetables, vitamin B12, and iron in the diet
  4. Weak immune system
  5. Poor oral hygiene
  6. Use of dental prosthetics or other objects that may harm the tongue
  7. Dehydration and dryness in the mouth

What piercings have to do with white tongue


Immediately after getting a tongue piercing, a white film may be noticeable. This occurs as the bacterial count on the tongue rises, which is a normal reaction. Using an antibacterial mouthwash can effectively eliminate it. Additionally, a ring around the piercing is normal and indicates the ongoing healing of the tissue.

In cases where plaque forms due to an injury, including piercings, the healing process typically takes approximately 1.5 weeks. During this period, it is advisable to steer clear of irritants such as hot, spicy, or sour foods and beverages.

Written by Emily

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