White tongue is usually harmless and can generally be remedied by brushing your tongue, using a tongue scraper, and drinking water.
A healthy tongue is pink and covered in small papillae, the bumps on the top and side of your tongue. A white tongue can be a result of overgrowth and swelling of these papillae. Dead cells, debris, and bacteria can become stuck in between and cause the papillae to be inflamed and enlarged.
Causes of White Tongue
Poor oral hygiene is the primary suspect, although alcohol and tobacco use can also cause a white tongue. Sometimes it is caused by dry mouth or breathing through the mouth or fever.
If your tongue hurts and is also white in color, it could be a sign of a more serious issue and you should call a doctor or dentist to follow up.
Related: What causes dry mouth?
How to Get Rid of White Tongue
If your tongue whiteness is not the result of a serious issue, the remedy for discoloration is simple. Regular brushing with a small bit of toothpaste can help dislodge debris and dead cells that cause inflammation.
A tongue scraper can also help remove bacteria. Antiseptic mouthwash or salt water solution can help eliminate bacteria in hard to reach areas, as well. Drinking water can also help keep the tongue properly moisturized and prevent dry mouth which may be a factor in causing white discoloration. Finally, tobacco and alcohol use should be limited.
Do you have dental health questions?
You can read answers to other frequent questions from his patients on the David Wilhite DDS Blog.
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David Wilhite is a Plano Texas Dentist bringing over 30 years of experience to serve patients. We truly take our patients care and experience very seriously.