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Why Your Tongue Turns White and 8 Ways to Get Rid of It

The products of the vital activities that happen in our bodies are derived not only from urine, feces, and sweat but also through the tongue. At the surface of the tongue, we have little bumps called papillae and that’s where some food particles, bacteria, and dead cells are stored. The accumulation of these things can cause a white discoloration.

By regularly removing the waste from our tongue, you can “clean” and conduct a constant detoxification of the body. Cleaning the tongue improves the sensitivity of the taste buds, freshens your breath, and it also prevents the onset of cavities, plaque, and gum disease. That’s why we at Bright Side collected easy ways that can help you treat a white tongue and keep your mouth healthy.

Why your tongue can be white

White tongue can be an indicator of different diseases or the result of finishing a medical treatment.

The state of the tongue was always used to diagnose diseases in the body. The tongue shows us that something is wrong with the body before the onset of pain and can reveal the presence of illness. Back in the day, ancient healers believed that a patient wasn’t completely cured until the tongue looked healthy, even if all the symptoms of the underlying ailment had already gone away.

Having a white tongue can be scary since it’s not the normal state of your tongue, but most of the time it’s just a harmless condition. There are instances where the white discoloration can be the warning before an infection or early cancer.

  • The formation of white or other plaque on the tongue can be caused by many things, but it is normally related to our dental hygiene. Some other things like having a dry mouth, a fever, smoking, alcohol, breathing through your mouth, antibiotics, etc. can be the cause of a white tongue.
  • It can also be a sign of a weakened immune system or a lack of some vitamins and minerals in your body. If you’re having other symptoms like pain and a burning feeling, it’s better to check with your doctor to see if you’ll need additional treatment.
  • Another condition that can cause a white tongue is oral thrush. It is also called oral candidiasis because the fungus Candida is the one that causes it. Candida is a naturally occurring organism in your body, but when it accumulates in big quantities on your tongue it can cause white spots all over your mouth.

Natural remedies to clean and disinfect the tongue

There are some natural tricks that can help you clean and disinfect the tongue. It will help you improve the health of your gums and even your teeth.

1. Garlic

It’s amazing, isn’t it? After all, we’re used to the fact that garlic is the cause of bad breath and not a way to clean the mouth. Disregard previous beliefs about garlic and don’t be afraid to eat it raw — it will help you kill bacteria and get rid of a white tongue.

2. Aloe vera

Aloe has anti-inflammatory and healing properties. To kill germs on the tongue and on the gums, you can either use products like toothpaste and mouthwash that include aloe or drink aloe vera juice.

3. Salt

Salt is one of the best helpers for cleansing the tongue. Abrasive salt particles will remove contamination and dead cells from the tongue. Sprinkle some salt on the tongue and lightly brush with a toothbrush for a minute. Then rinse your mouth with water. Repeat twice a day.

4. Turmeric

Turmeric isn’t only a spice, but also an excellent alternative to antiseptic drugs for the mouth. Combine the turmeric and citrus juice until you get a pasty consistency. Rub the paste onto the tongue for 2 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with warm water. Voilà!

5. A toothbrush

To remove dead cells and bacteria that are making you have a white tongue, try to gently brush the tongue with a toothbrush or a special brush from the bottom up — from the base to the tip. Do not press hard and take your time, also remember to brush your tongue while you’re brushing your teeth, it’s just as important for your mouth health.

6. Disinfecting mouthwash with herbs and salt

Herbs have medicinal properties — like for example, chamomile, mint, and sage. Take a tablespoon of chamomile, a teaspoon of mint, and a teaspoon of sage, add a pinch of oak bark to the mixture, and fill it with 4 cups of boiled water. Wait for the broth to cool and strain it. Then pour a tbsp of salt into the broth. Done! Swish with this remedy twice a day after brushing your teeth to see the results on your tongue.

7. Baking soda

Baking soda is an ingredient that has so many uses, from baking to mouth health — it’s like a magical ingredient. According to some research baking soda can increase the pH of our mouth and tongue, resulting in a decrease in bacteria. Get lemon juice and make a paste to use as an exfoliator to remove dead cells and bacteria from your tongue.

8. Use a tongue scraper.

Like a toothbrush, a tongue scraper can also be used to get rid of bacteria just like we remove it from our teeth to prevent plaque. On the surface of the tongue, bacteria and dead cells build up, so by using this method we are basically scraping them away.

The correct way to use it is by placing it at the very back of our tongue and pulling it out, down to the tip. Rinse the scraper and you can repeat this cleansing method multiple times. We don’t know why, but this method seems fun to try and if you don’t own a tongue scraper you can always use a spoon.

Dos and Don’ts for a healthy tongue

Our tongue is a crucial part of our mouth, without it we wouldn’t be able to talk, taste food, or swallow without an issue. A really cool trait the tongue has is that it can move and change forms because it consists of a group of muscles. That’s the reason why you can roll your tongue like a taco.

Since our tongue is very important and helpful for us, we might as well try to keep it clean and fresh, so next we are sharing some things you can do to achieve that.

1. Drink more water.

How much water should we consume daily? This is a great question with a not-so-clear answer. To know how much water you should be consuming you have to consider factors such as your body weight, activity level, and the climate of where you live.

Some of the benefits of drinking water are: skin, joint, and kidney health, it also flushes our bodily waste, regulates our temperature, makes nutrients accessible to the whole body, and helps us form saliva. Our saliva is important because it can fight germs in our mouths, so when we are dehydrated our mouth can accumulate more germs.

Dehydration and dry mouth can provoke a white tongue. Drink regularly and always carry a bottle of water with you so that you can instantly replenish the level of water in your body if you’re thirsty. Dehydration also has other symptoms: dark urine, exhaustion, fatigue, headaches, and rare urination.

2. Improve your oral hygiene.

Everything is logical and simple here: Careful oral hygiene can help reduce the number of bacteria. It’s necessary to clean both the teeth and the tongue after each meal — in the morning and before bedtime. Bacteria starts forming in your mouth the minute you clean it, so regular cleaning sessions can help you to avoid oral health issues.

Ideally, our oral hygiene routine should look like this: clean the teeth and tongue, use dental floss, use an oral irrigator, and use disinfectant mouthwash. If it just so happens that you’re one of those people that has a gag reflex every time you touch the back of your tongue — you can try to clean it really slowly, but please know that it’s important to clean back there too.

3. Maintain a healthy diet.

As kids, we don’t really pay attention to our eating habits since our parents are responsible for our well-being, but as adults, it’s our responsibility to know which foods are contributing to our health. Eating a proper, balanced diet, aside from contributing to your overall health can also help to keep your tongue in good shape. Vitamins, minerals, calcium, lean protein, and fiber are the things you should look for in a diet.

Have you ever experienced a white tongue? Share your advice on how you keep your tongue healthy with us in the comment section!

Please note: This article was updated in June 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
Preview photo credit Depositphotos.com
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