White tongue the most important causes and methods of treatment
White tongue the most important causes and methods of treatment
White tongue is a symptom where your tongue grows a thick white layer on part or all of its upper part. You may also experience bad breath, hairy tongue, and irritability. A white tongue may seem unattractive but is usually harmless and temporary.
What is white tongue
"White tongue" is a common symptom when your tongue is covered with a thick white film. This layer can cover the entire surface of your tongue or the back of your tongue or may appear as spots. You may also notice a bad taste in your mouth, an unpleasant smell, or redness.
White tongue sometimes occurs along with a related symptom called hairy tongue. But the thick, fur – like layer you see isn't actually hair, it's your papillae-tiny bumps that contain your taste buds.
The whiteness of the tongue can build up over time or it may appear suddenly if you irritate your tongue or have an infection. You can get a white tongue from several different causes but it usually goes away within a few weeks. You can also use antifungal mouthwash. But if your white tongue lasts more than a few weeks – or if you have pain or problems eating and speaking – you should see your provider for diagnosis and treatment.
Why is my tongue White?
White tongue usually occurs when bacteria, debris such as food, sugar, and dead cells attack between the papillae on the surface of your tongue. Then these thread-like papillae grow significantly and swell, sometimes becoming inflamed.
White tongue can also be caused by a number of different conditions:
- Leukoplakia: leukoplakia is a common condition caused by an overgrowth of cells in the lining of your mouth. These cells combine with keratin protein (found in your hair) to form a raised white patch on your tongue. In many cases, you can get this condition by irritating your mouth and tongue when drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco. Sometimes there is no obvious reason. Leukoplakia is usually not serious but sometimes it can turn cancerous (oral cancer) years or even decades after it first appears.
- Oral lichen planus: oral lichen planus is a chronic (long-term) inflammatory oral condition. It is caused by a disturbance in the immune system (your body's defense against germs) and other microscopic threats. You can not transfer this condition to others.
- Geographic tongue: geographic tongue occurs as the skin of your tongue grows. Parts of the top layer of skin on your tongue fall off very quickly, leaving thin red areas that often become infected. Meanwhile, other parts of your tongue stay in place for a very long time and turn white. You cannot pass a geotagging tongue to anyone else.
- Oral thrush: oral thrush is an infection in your mouth caused by Candida yeast (fungus). Although Candida is usually found inside your mouth, it becomes a problem when it grows too much.
- Syphilis: syphilis is a bacterial and infectious infection transmitted by contact in a relationship (STI). It is a serious condition with many symptoms including white tongue.
Who are most susceptible to white tongue Is the white tongue hereditary?
Certain health problems, substances, and habits can put you at greater risk of getting a white tongue or mouthpiece (an infection that causes a white spot on your tongue). These risk factors include:
- Having diabetes.
- Being too young or too old. Oral thrush is considered the most common in infants and young children.
- Use antibiotics (can cause a fungal infection inside your mouth).
- A diet that is not good with a lack of fruit or vegetables (iron or vitamin B12). This can also cause a diet consisting mostly of soft foods.
- Having a fever or a weakened immune system.
- Wear dentures or damage your tongue with Sharp Objects.
- Poor oral hygiene.
- Breathe through your mouth.
- Dehydration and dry mouth caused by a medical condition or using medications (such as muscle relaxants).
- Smoking or chewing tobacco.
- Drink more than one alcoholic drink a day.
- Undergo cancer treatments.
- Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid causes impaired metabolism).
Does tongue piercing cause the whiteness of the tongue?
If you (or your teen) have just had a tongue piercing, you may see a white coating on your tongue. Normal bacterial growth can be reduced with antifungal mouthwash, such as Nystatin you may also notice a white ring of tissue around the sides of the hole, but this is how your tongue usually heals from the wound.
What are the symptoms of whiteness of the tongue?
Depending on your symptoms, your tongue may be white as well. Or it may appear with other symptoms.
Due to the height of the papillae (those small bumps on your tongue), they create a lot of space for debris and microorganisms (food, plaque, bacteria) to collect inside your mouth. This buildup almost certainly causes bad breath and can leave a bad taste in your mouth. White tongue can also worsen gum health (such as gum disease).
Care and treatment
How is the whiteness of the tongue treated Will my white tongue come back
You may not need to treat your white tongue. Normally, it should disappear on its own within a few weeks. But you may want treatment if it lasts longer than that, or if you want to get rid of it sooner. Treatments for common symptoms of white tongue include:
- Hairy tongue: your provider probably won't treat your hairy tongue directly. Instead, they will focus on treating your weakened immune system. In rare cases, they can prescribe you antiviral drugs such as valaciclovir or famciclovir. Or they may apply a remedy (such as podophylline resin or retinoic acid) directly to the White Spot.
- Tongue rash: you should not need treatment for tongue rash (oral lichen planus). But sometimes the rash in your mouth can last maybe for several years.
- Oral fungus: if you have oral fungus (oral thrush), your provider will prescribe antifungal drugs such as diflucan. These come in the form of pills that you can take, gels or liquids that you can apply to stains inside your mouth. You will usually need several requests a day for one or two weeks.
- White spots: there are no special treatments for the presence of several white tongue patches (called geographic tongue because it resembles the outline of a map). Avoid any drink or food that may cause you discomfort. Topical medications used to treat oral fungus can give you some relief from any discomfort you may feel. There is no risk that this condition will become cancerous.
- Syphilis: if syphilis causes the whiteness of your tongue, it won't go away on its own. If untreated, it can eventually damage your nervous system and cause serious long-term health problems. If you have had syphilis for more than a year, you may need up to three injections.
- Oral cancer: if your provider tells you that you are at high risk of developing oral cancer, they will most likely remove the white spot with surgery. Your doctor may use a scalpel, laser, or another method such as cryotherapy, freezing it with liquid nitrogen. This surgery will help make sure that your tongue cells do not turn into cancer cells. You can choose to either be sedated or asleep for this process. Usually, you will heal soon after this procedure.
Your provider can also help you find out if you have a food or drink Allergy, and help you find the right medication for you.