Our mouths are home to lots of bacteria, most of which is harmless and aids in digestion. But sometimes oral bacteria, pre-existing health conditions, or immune diseases can wreak havoc on your oral health and cause tongue discoloration.
If you’ve noticed that your tongue isn’t as pink and smooth as it should be and instead has a white appearance, these 4 causes of white tongue might be to blame.
Causes Of White Tongue Discoloration
You may be familiar with the “mouth-body link,” which is the close relationship between your oral health and your overall health. Oral health problems can cause health problems like heart disease, but the link goes both ways.
Here are just 4 possible causes of white tongue and what to do about it:
Poor Oral Hygiene
Most of the time, a white tongue is a result of poor oral hygiene. The tongue has small bumps, called papillae, which can become swollen, inflamed, and discolored if there is an overgrowth of bacteria, yeast, or even with dehydration.
Consider adding a tongue scraper to your oral hygiene routine and using an ADA-accepted mouthwash to help with bacteria buildup.
Oral thrush can cause a white or yellow film to form on the tongue and can cause discomfort when eating and drinking. Thrush is caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the mouth, which can be a result of poor oral hygiene, a weakened immune system, or antibiotics.
Treatment for oral thrush involves antifungal medication, adding a mouthwash, and excellent oral hygiene. Some oral thrush resolves on its own with proper oral care. Your doctor may also recommend adding probiotics to your diet if you experience oral thrush as a result of antibiotics.
Leukoplakia causes white patches to form inside the cheeks, on the tongue, and along the gums. People who smoke, chew tobacco, or consume excessive amounts of alcohol are at risk of leukoplakia.
In most cases, these white patches are harmless, but in rare cases, leukoplakia turns into oral cancer. See your healthcare provider or dentist if you notice white patches in the mouth that do not go away.
Oral Lichen Planus
An autoimmune inflammatory problem can cause white patches to form in the mouth and cause sore gums. Most of the time, oral lichen planus resolves on its own, but some cases require a steroid mouth rinse or a steroid spray.