While it can be quite a shock to look in the mirror and see that the entire surface of your tongue looks like it’s coated in white, it’s usually not a cause for serious concern. Whether your entire tongue is white or it’s just discolored in certain spots, there are safe, natural ways you can get rid of this unsightly problem. Here are some of the typical causes of a white, furry tongue, and ways to eliminate it.
Causes of a Furry Tongue
A furry tongue doesn’t actually have fur on it… but the fuzzy white coating on the tongue can make it look furry, and even feel kind of furry. The truth behind a furry tongue is that bacteria are usually the main culprits when it comes to causing a white coated tongue… but it’s not the only culprit. Food, dirt, fungi, and even dead cells can also be contributing factors. Debris can become trapped within the tiny bumps on your tongue, also known as papillae, and these bumps can become irritated as a result. This, in turn, causes the white discoloration.
There are a lot of other causes of white tongue, however, and many of them are related to dental hygiene. If you have bad breath, for example, that’s a sign you’ll probably be more likely to wake up one morning and see a white tongue when you look in the mirror. Poor brushing and flossing habits can also increase your risk.
However, drinking alcohol or using tobacco products can also lead to a white tongue, as can dehydration and fever. If you have a dry mouth, you don’t have enough saliva to sufficiently wash away all of the bad bacteria on your tongue. If you tend to eat a large amount of soft foods, or if you’ve recently had dental work done, that could increase the chances as well.
In addition, there are certain oral conditions that can contribute to white tongue, and with these conditions, it’s vital that you see a doctor. So when you notice a white tongue, take that as a warning sign. These conditions may include:
· Oral lichen planus –
This is an issue with the immune system that results in the formation of white patches throughout the tongue, as well as other areas of the mouth. You might have sores inside the mouth, along with sore gums.
· Leukoplakia –
People who smoke or chew tobacco or drink alcohol to excess will often notice white patches on their tongue, gums, and cheeks. While these patches are usually harmless, there are some rare instances where they can lead to the development of serious oral disease.
· Syphilis –
This is an infection that develops after sexual contact. In some cases it can lead to sores in the mouth and the potential development of leukoplakia.
This is another condition that can lead to a white, furry tongue, and one that can be the sign of a serious problem. Oral thrush is caused by an infection due to the Candida yeast.
Candida albicans is the type of yeast most closely linked to oral thrush. While it can occur in adults, it usually affects infants and toddlers. White bumps which form on the tongue and inner cheeks due to growth of the yeast will usually go away with treatment. Symptoms include pain in the affected area, trouble swallowing, bad breath, and cracked skin at the corners of the mouth.
Can Probiotics Help?
You’ve undoubtedly either seen a television commercial or read an ad online or in a newspaper or magazine all about the benefits of probiotics. These live=ing microorganisms are more closely associated with digestive health, but they can also help keep your mouth healthy. How?
Probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, can play a key role in helping to inhibit the development of conditions that can lead to white tongue. They also help with maintaining overall oral health. One study, for example, suggests that Lactobacillus reuteri bacteria can inhibit the growth of the C. albicans, the yeast most closely associated with oral thrush.1,2
Just as probiotics help keep a good balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria and yeasts in the “gut,” or gastrointestinal tract, they can do the same thing in your mouth. Probiotics help boost the immune system by keeping “bad” bacteria and other microbes from attaching themselves to tissues… including the tissues in your mouth.3
Choosing the Right Probiotic Supplement
You can find probiotics in a wide variety of foods, namely fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, yogurt, and sourdough bread. But it would be virtually impossible for you to obtain the amount of beneficial bacteria you need through food alone. You’d have to eat probiotic-rich foods in such high quantities that the weight you’d gain would offset any other benefits you might receive.
That’s why you should seriously consider purchasing a probiotic supplement in order to make sure you have an ample supply of good bacteria and other microbes. But it can be overwhelming when it comes to picking the right one, because there are thousands of them available.
Look of a product with OVER 20 Billion CFUs per serving. Those colony forming units tell you how many live probiotics each capsule should contain. You should also look for a product with a wide range of different strains, whenever possible.
Another thing you need to think about when buy probiotics will be whether or not the microbes will be able to survive their passage through your stomach. You might not know this, but the stomach can be an incredibly unforgiving environment, filled with acid that can destroy the microbes within poorly made capsules. Look for products that feature capsules with an enteric coating or CA Technology. This will help ensure the microbes will make it through the stomach and get to the intestines, where they can thrive.
When to See a Doctor About a Furry Tongue
Again, a white tongue is usually harmless and will go away on its own within a couple of days. There are some instances, however, where it is important that you get in touch with a doctor. If, for example, you have a painful, burning tongue or you notice open sores, schedule an appointment.
The same is true if your white tongue is accompanied by a rash, fever, or a sudden drop in weight, or if the problem doesn’t resolve on its own.
You should also get in touch with a doctor if you have any problems talking, chewing, or swallowing, or if you have had illnesses associated with a white tongue in the past. And, if you have persistent bad breath along with a white tongue, see your doctor or dentist about the problem.
If you haven’t developed a white tongue and want to keep it that way, there are some things you can do to lower the chances you’ll develop the condition. Following basic dental hygiene can go a long way toward helping you avoid the problem. For example, brush your teeth at least two times a day and brush your tongue as well. You can use your regular toothbrush or even buy a tongue scraper. Follow up with a mouthwash rinse. Floss your teeth at least once each day to remove bacteria from in-between teeth. This can help stave off white coated tongue, and will help prevent bad breath.
Also, if you use tobacco products, stop. Not only do they cause conditions like dry mouth and bad breath, they may also contribute to a white, furry tongue.
In addition, make sure you see your dentist once every six months for a thorough cleaning and a checkup.
For more helpful articles follow the links below: