Noticed your tongue has been looking a little white lately? Whiteness is usually good news for the teeth, but certainly not for the tongue! To make matters worse, white coated tongue usually comes along with bad breath, which just adds on to the embarrassment. In most cases, white tongue is no cause for alarm. It just means you have to put in some extra work than usual to prevent it from happening again.
What Are The Causes Of A White Coated Tongue?
Scientifically, white tongue is caused by an overgrowth and swelling of the fingerlike projections known as papillae on the surface of your tongue. At times, there can be an appearance of a white coating which is caused by debris, bacteria and dead cells getting lodged in between the papillae which has been enlarged and can sometimes be inflamed. Hence, the whiteness is actually a side effect of enlarged papillae.
Some causes for papillae hypertrophy or inflammation include poor oral hygiene, dehydration, dry mouth, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, frequently breathing through the mouth, fever, mechanical irritation from dental appliances like braces, or a diet of mostly soft or mashed foods.
How To Prevent White Coated Tongue
If you already have white coated tongue, the first thing to do is to get rid of it. Fortunately, that’s easy enough. As white tongue is most commonly a buildup of plaque on the teeth and tongue, you need to remove this plaque on a regular basis. If you commonly find yourself with white coated tongue, doctors recommend that you brush your tongue as well as your teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. While brushing your teeth, be sure to brush all tooth surfaces equally to remove stains and also hidden plaque, especially at the back of and in between your teeth where they are easily missed. Also, choose fluoride toothpaste for an effective cleaning, and be sure to use a gentle touch.
If you have chronic white tongue problems, you may wish to start looking at changing certain habits or diets of yours. Identify which of the causes of white tongue listed above may apply to you, and try removing them from your life for a week or two to see if there is any effect.
A Word Of Caution
There are some other conditions which are also associated with white tongue, white patches or other discoloration. These include the use of certain medications such as prolonged use of antibiotics that might cause an oral yeast infection, oral thrush, geographic tongue, leukoplakia, oral lichen planus, mouth cancer, tongue cancer, syphilis, or immunosuppression caused by diseases such as HIV or AIDS. If you feel that your white coated tongue may be out of the ordinary, it is imperative that you consult a dentist for a professional opinion. If you have other more general dentistry concerns, and you are based in New York City, Dr Alex Rubinov has treated many satisfied customers in your area and you should definitely consider him as your go-to for your dental needs.