“I started brushing my teeth this morning and noticed my tongue is white. It totally freaked me out! Does this mean I’m really sick or something?” – Kristin T. Shavano Park
HOW DOES WHITE TONGUE FORM?
When you wake up in the morning or you go for a long stretch of time without brushing your teeth, you may notice your tongue turning a shade of white. This commonly happens when there is inflammation of your papillae (tiny bumps) on your tongue. The white coating is caused by debris, dead cells or bacteria which get stuck on the bumps of your tongue and results in the white coloring.
Your tongue is the perfect home for anaerobes. These bacteria live in areas with very little to no oxygen, including the bowel. Anaerobes do a great job of breaking down the proteins that are in your mouth but as a byproduct they produce compounds which trigger the foul stench of bad breath.
There are other factors that can lead to a white tongue: dry mouth, insufficient water consumption, alcohol, use of tobacco products, or you are sick with a fever.
In more serious cases, a white tongue can be indicative of troublesome medical conditions such as a yeast infection or leukoplakia, a condition that causes thick, white patches on your tongue and the lining inside your mouth.
If there are no underlying medical conditions, you can easily scrape the white coating off your tongue. It’s an extra step in your oral hygiene routine that may get your breath smelling better.
- TOOTHBRUSH: Just take a small amount of toothpaste and use your toothbrush to gently, brush the top of your tongue.
- TONGUE SCRAPER: This is an inexpensive and easy-to-use tool. There are scrapers that come in different sizes and shapes. You simply take the tool to the back of the tongue and pull forward toward the opening of your mouth.
- DRINK WATER: Hydration is key to reducing white tongue. Water can wash away food particles to keep bacteria from creating odors in the mouth.
“If you’re brushing your teeth and using a tongue scraper, but you notice that your breath is still bad, that could be a sign of gum disease. And all that plaque in your mouth is what’s causing the nasty smell. You can always stop by and see one of our dental professionals at Advanced Smile Care. We can properly assess what’s the root of your problem,” said Dr. Alejandro Cavazos of the Advanced Smile Care team.