Do you wake up in the morning with white patches on your tongue and not sure what causes it? As it turns out, there are a few different reasons it could be occuring. You may already be familiar with the bacterial biofilm that commonly collects on your tongue. If you don’t brush your tongue often enough, it can build up over time and cause chronic bad breath. However, white tongue is a more advanced form of this biofilm.
According to your dentist in Tyler, it’s usually a harmless symptom. However, it’s not something to leave untreated. Today, we’ll be looking at what causes white tongue and what your doctor can do about it.
What is White Tongue? What Causes It?
White tongue is a condition where either the entire tongue or parts of it are covered in a thick white coating. One of the most common causes of white tongue is poor oral hygiene. Your tongue is covered small bumps called papillae. As you eat, germs and food particles easily get stuck in between these bumps and cause the tongue to look white.
If you experience chronic dry mouth or become dehydrated easily, you’re at higher risk of getting white tongue. You’re also at higher risk of getting a white tongue if:
- If you don’t brush your tongue enough
- You smoke, chew, or dip tobacco
- You consume alcohol regularly
- You don’t brush or floss correctly
- Your mouth is irritated from dentures, braces, or your teeth
What Conditions Cause White Tongue?
There are also a few conditions that can cause white tongue. These include:
- Leukoplakia – This condition is usually caused by regular tobacco use and alcohol consumption. It can also occur from irritation caused by dentures.
- Oral Lichen Planus – This inflammatory condition can appear in tandem with ulcers, painful cheeks, and aching gums.
- Oral Thrush – This fungal infection is caused by Candida yeast and creates large white patches on the tongue and mouth. Not only do patients report an unpleasant taste, but also pain, particularly when eating or drinking.
Can My Doctor Treat It? How Do I Prevent White Tongue?
All of the mentioned conditions can be treated by a doctor if regular oral care does not change its appearance. For example, oral thrush is usually treated with antifungal medicines in the form of an oral drop and takes about 1 to 2 weeks to treat. Leukoplakia can be monitored by your doctor to ensure it’s not worsening. Oral lichen planus is treated with corticosteroids if severe, but usually only monitored by a doctor to confirm it’s not getting worse.
According to your Tyler dentist, the best way to prevent white tongue is to brush twice a day, floss once a day, and using a tongue scraper every day or toothbrush to remove bacteria and food debris from your tongue. You’ll also want to avoid the products mentioned that cause white tongue and see your dentist every six months to ensure you’re keeping your tongue as clean as possible.
You can avoid white tongue by practicing regular oral habits. Remember to schedule an appointment with your dentist in Tyler as well!
About the Author
Dr. Keith O. Gerber earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from Howard Payne University. He’s currently a member of the ADA, the Academy of General Dentistry, and many other dental associations. To learn more about his practice, contact him at (903) 581-8862 or visit his website.