Have you ever gotten a glimpse of your tongue in the bathroom mirror, and noticed that it’s oddly white-looking? Luckily, having a white tongue is quite harmless and it's usually an indicator that you need to pay close attention to your oral hygiene, and perhaps stay more hydrated throughout the day.
Causes of a white tongue
The reason why your tongue turns white is because of inflamed tiny bumps on the surface called papillae. When the bumps swell up, bacteria, debris, dirt, food, and dead cells begin accumulating in the enlarged areas and that is what turns your tongue white. Inflamed papillae can be a result of poor oral hygiene, dry mouth, dehydration, smoking, fever, or an excessive consumption of alcohol.
Other reasons why your tongue might have white spots or discoloration could include medication, mouth or throat cancer, syphilis, and leukoplakia—which is caused by irritation from tobacco.
How to get rid of a white tongue?
According to experts at Healthline, if you’ve got a white tongue the chances are that you probably won’t need to get any treatment as it’ll clear up on its own. You can remove the white coatingby brushing the surface of your tongue gently with a soft toothbrush. You can also use a tongue scraper to take off as much of the debris as you can. But generally, you can flush it out by just drinking lots of water.
In some cases, a white tongue can be a symptom of a more serious health condition like cancer or an infection. In the case that it doesn’t go away after two weeks, you should go to a doctor and get it checked out. If it's accompanied by other symptoms like pain, a burning sensation, open sores, fever, weight loss, or problems with chewing, swallowing, or talking—you should get help immediately.