White Tongue FAQ

Do you have a white tongue and need to learn more about this issue?  In this post, we will answer some of the most common questions about white tongue.

White Tongue Frequently Asked Questions

“White tongue” is the common name of when the surface of your tongue appears white or mostly white when you look at it in the mirror.

White tongue is usually harmless and only a temporary condition that can be easily treated.

The white appearance is caused by the small rounded “buds” (papillae) of your tongue becoming swelled.

White tongue is usually harmless and can generally be remedied by brushing your tongue, using a tongue scraper, and drinking water.

White tongue is most commonly caused by poor oral hygiene habits. Other causes of white tongue include dry mouth, dehydration, tobacco use, excessive alcohol use, mouth breathing, or a fever.

Whatever the cause, the tiny protuberances on your tongue (papillae) will have become swelled, causing it to appear as if it has a white coating. This whiteness of tongue is caused by debris, bacteria and dead cells getting lodged between the swelled or inflamed papillae.

If your tongue hurts and is also white in color, this could be a sign of a more serious issue and you should call a doctor or dentist to follow up.

Generally no. White tongue is usually just a temporary issue and not serious. As long as you are not feeling any pain in your tongue, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Although white tongue is usually harmless, take precautions if the symptom persists for more than two weeks or you have other changes in your tongue. If your white lasts longer than two weeks, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. It can occasionally be a symptom of a serious condition.

Most of the time, the remedy for a white tongue is tooth brushing, including with a small bit of toothpaste to brush your tongue in order to help dislodge dead cells and debris that cause inflammation.

A tongue scraper can also help remove bacteria. Antiseptic mouthwash or salt water solution can help eliminate bacteria in hard to reach areas, as well.

Drinking water can also help keep the tongue properly moisturized and prevent dry mouth which may be a factor in causing white discoloration. Finally, tobacco and alcohol use should be limited.

dr_sullivan-150x150 White Tongue FAQ Michael E. Sullivan, DDS, PC

The Office of Michael E. Sullivan can diagnose white tongue issues and determine the right treatment for your dental health.

For an appointment with Elmhurst dentist Michael E. Sullivan, CALL 630-530-0770.


More white tongue resources: 10 Natural Treatments for White Tongue – Dr Axe White Tongue – Mayo Clinic What Causes a White Tongue and How to Treat It – Healthline “What does it mean if my tongue is white?” – Zocdoc