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White Tongue: Causes And Tips For Prevention

White tongue may be the result of bacteria, debris or dead cells getting lodged between inflamed or enlarged papillae. Read here to know some common causes of white tongue and how you can prevent it.

White Tongue: Causes And Tips For Prevention

White tongue can be because of fever of dehydration


  1. Regular consumption of alcohol and smoking can cause white tongue
  2. White tongue is usually a harmless symptom
  3. It might indicate something serious in very rare cases

Have you ever noticed white patches on your tongue? It may be the result of bacteria, debris or dead cells getting lodged between inflamed or enlarged papillae. Papillae are fingerlike projections on the surface of your tongue. Dehydration, fever, a diet low in roughage, excessive use of alcohol, breathing through mouth, tobacco use and smoking are the common causes of white tongue. In most cases a white tongue is a harmless symptom. However, there are some rare cases in which having a white tongue maybe indicative of a serious condition. While most people get a white tongue because of poor oral hygiene, others might have it despite having healthy oral hygiene habits.

Read below to know some common causes of white tongue: 

1. Oral thrush

Oral thrush is referred to a fungal infection which may cause white tongue. Candida yeast can be the reason behind oral thrush. It causes white patches in the mouth and tongue. Oral thrush is a fungal infection which may cause pain during eating or drinking. If you have a weak immune system, you are more prone to risks of oral thrush.


Poor oral hygiene may be the reason for white tongue
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: 7 Possible Reasons Why There Are Dark Spots On Your Tongue

2. Oral lichen planus

This is an inflammatory condition which results in thick and white patches of skin on mouth and tongue. These white patches may also be accompanied by painful cheeks, gums and ulcers.

3. Syphilis

Yes, a sexually transmitted disease (STD) like syphilis can also be the reason why you have white tongue. If left untreated, syphilis can cause sores in the mouth.

4. Leukoplakia

This condition also results in white patches on tongue and mouth. Regular smokers and alcohol drinkers are likely to have white tongue because of leukoplakia. Irritation from dentures and inflammatory conditions may also cause leukoplakia. White patches causes by leukoplakia are usually harmless.

Also read: Here's What Your Tongue Says About Your Health


Regular smoking and alcohol consumption can cause white tongue
Photo Credit: iStock

Treatment of white tongue

For treating oral thrush, antifungal medicines are recommended. Persistent white tongue should be monitored by your doctor to prevent it from getting worse. This is the case with leukoplakia and oral lichen planus.

In case of syphilis, you need to treat it with antibiotics which destroy the bacteria that caused the disease. Quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol intake can also help in getting rid of white tongue.

Also read: 'Black Hairy Tongue' Is An Actual Medical Condition, And It Looks As Weird As It Sounds

Preventive tips for white tongue

1. Maintaining proper oral hygiene is the most effective way to prevent white tongue. Brushing teeth twice a day and flossing teeth regularly are some effective ways of maintaining proper hygiene.

2. Cleaning your tongue with tongue scraper can also help in preventing white tongue.

3. Make sure you visit your dentist every 6 months to ensure proper oral hygiene and prevent white tongue.

4. Using probiotics can also help in preventing white tongue. This is because probiotics contain bacteria which are beneficial for the digestive system.

5. Another effective home remedy for preventing white tongue is eating raw garlic. Garlic can help in fighting infections caused by candida.

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Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information. 


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