White tongue – what to do about coating on your tongue

Last updated: 3/11/2022

A white coating on the tongue is a problem that many people have now and then. It can have many causes, but fortunately there are also many ways to deal with it

Why do people get a white coating on the tongue? What does a white tongue mean? And what are the best ways to treat and prevent it?

Find out more about it all here, and see how you can have a healthy tongue.

Read by Anne Thestrup Meimbresse

Anne, Varde Pharmacy
Anne has a MSc in Pharmacy from the University of Southern Denmark and has worked as a pharmacist at the Varde pharmacy for several years. Here she advises both costumers and doctors about the correct use of medical products.

What does a white tongue look like? 

A healthy tongue is a clear pink colour and covered with small, short stubs that may resemble hair. These are called papillae, and they give the tongue its rough surface. 

Between the papillae there may be remnants of food, dead skin cells and so on. The spaces farthest back on the tongue are the largest, so most residues and bacterial growth are found here. 

A healthy tongue has no spots, lumps or bumps, but is even in its own rough way. 

Your tongue is one of the most important muscles in the body. It receives all impressions of taste from food and drink, and at the same time helps you to swallow. Not least, it enables you to express yourself in words. You would not be able to speak without it. 

That is why your tongue is very special – and even more reason to keep it healthy.

5–pack against white tongue

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How can you treat and prevent white coating on the tongue? 

If you have trouble with a white coating on your tongue, help is fortunately at hand. 

If the white coating is due to dead skin cells and bacteria, it is generally a question of maintaining good, healthy oral hygiene. You can do it in a few simple steps every day: 

  1. Brush your teeth thoroughly.For example with Australian Bodycare Tea Tree Oil toothpaste, which effectively helps to combat bacteria and keeps your mouth fresh and clean. 
  2. Use dental floss between your teeth, where your toothbrush cannot reach.
  3. Rinse your mouth with Mouth Wash, a liquid wash that is effective against bacterial growth and bad breath. 
  4. Finish your oral care with a tongue scraperwhich rids the tongue of dead skin cells and bacteria. 

If you have a fungus on your tongue, it requires good oral hygiene and specific medication directly on the tongue. You can use our mouth gel for fungus on the tongue, as it contains effective antibacterial ingredients.

To benefit optimally from the gel, you should use it at least once a day, and preferably up to four times a day. Press 2 cm gel out on your finger or toothbrush, and spread it on your tongue. 

Do not rinse the gel off, and you should also avoid eating and drinking for 30 minutes afterwards, to ensure the greatest effect. 

5–pack against white tongue

Tea Tree Oil oral products for the daily care of coated tongue, gums and teeth

£34.99 £39.99

Three ways to prevent white coating on your tongue 

  • Make sure you brush your teeth and tongue thoroughly twice a day to brush the bacteria away. 
  • Drink plenty of fluids during the day, so you avoid becoming dehydrated. Water is good – for your skin, tongue and general wellbeing. 
  • Drop the cigarettes, if you smoke. Smoking weakens the mouth's natural ability to maintain a healthy oral environment. 

Why do you get a white coating on the tongue?

There may be several different causes of a white or yellowish tongue. Some are harmless, while others require more serious attention. 

Poor oral hygiene 

Do you forget to brush your teeth at bedtime and when you get up? Or do you remember to brush your teeth, but not your tongue? 

Poor oral hygiene is one of the most frequent causes when the tongue turns white and a coating forms on it. 

Too little fluid and dehydration

Do you make sure you get enough fluid in the course of the day? If you do not drink enough, and your fluid intake is low, it may cause a white coating on the tongue. 

If you discover that you have a white tongue, and also find that you are not drinking enough, dehydration may be the reason for your tongue's appearance. 

Accumulation of dead skin cells

If you see white coatings on your tongue, it may be because dead skin cells are accumulating on it. 

Between the papillae, dead skin cells may get stuck, giving the tongue a particular white or yellowish colour. 

Smoking 

Have you discovered a white coating on your tongue? And do you smoke? 

If you smoke, you also risk a white tongue. Smoking strongly affects the environment in your mouth, and it can therefore show as a white or yellowish colour on your tongue. 

Infections

A fungal infection with candida can cause a coating on the tongue. This applies to both adults and children. When this infection occurs in the mouth, it is called thrush

In adults the infection occurs most often when the immune response is weakened, and it is a common side effect if you are ill, or take medication such as antibiotics. 

A fungal infection on the tongue can occur at any age – but it is most common in older people and small children or during pregnancy.  

Glossitis 

If you have a white coating on your tongue, it may be caused by glossitis, which is a state of inflammation of the tongue. Typically, the tongue becomes swollen, with patches of white coating. 

Most frequently this is because you are allergic to a particular type of food or medication, or that you have a hormonal imbalance, or vitamin B12 deficiency

Oral lichen planus 

If you have a skin disease called oral lichen planus, it can appear on several parts of the body, and may give your tongue a characteristic appearance with white streaks or a lace pattern.

At the same time, there may be red sores on the tongue, or tenderness. 

Cancer and other diseases 

If you have a white coating on your tongue, and it is swollen at the same time, it may be because your kidneys are out of balance. 

Other serious causes may include early signs of oral cancer, one of which is a white coating. 

When is it a problem? 

Your tongue tells tales. It lets on about what is going on in the rest of your body. For that reason, your tongue can in fact be your best friend if you discover early signs of disease. 

The white coating is most often a problem when it occurs in combination with other symptoms. It is therefore important to see a doctor or dentist if you are in the slightest doubt about the cause of the coating. 

Along with the white coating, there may be other consequences, which are more harmless than disease. You might, for example have bad breath, which is not serious, but nevertheless is highly unpleasant – both for you and those around you.

5–pack against white tongue

Tea Tree Oil oral products for the daily care of coated tongue, gums and teeth

£34.99 £39.99