Why Is My Tongue White?

Posted by DrSimmons | Filed under , , ,

Why is My Tongue White?

 

            A White tongue is most often a sign of dehydration or a dry mouth (caused by some prescription medications and autoimmune diseases). The dryness allows bacteria and debris to build up on the tongue instead of being washed away by saliva.  Within a short time it is usually accompanied by bad breath. 

            White spots or patches can occur on the tongue with infection, irritation or chronic inflammation.  Sometimes they can be precancerous so if white patches suddenly appear please schedule an appointment with your dentist to have them assessed.  There is a benign condition called Geographic Tongue where the tongue presents with a white border and irregular red patches.  This is due to a lack of papillae normally present on the tongue.  It is a harmless condition and generally runs in families.

            Causes of tongue irritation can vary from too much rinsing with alcohol mouthwash, using a toothpaste with sodium lauryl sulfate, rinsing with non diluted hydrogen peroxide and even spicy foods.  Even everyday stress can affect our dental health by making our mouth drier than normal

 

Tongue Facts:

1.  Taste buds on the tongue vary in length.  About 50% of the population have taste buds so long and dense that their tongues are more prone to hosting the organisms/bacteria that cause dental decay and gum disease.

2.  It is estimated that 90% of bad breath originates from these creatures living on the surface of our tongues!

Tongue Hygiene

     While most of us brush our teeth on a daily basis, we neglect to clean our tongues!  The extra minute this takes can make a big difference in preventing bad breath and returning the tongue to its normal color.

     Using a tongue cleaner will help remove the largest amount of organisms possible from the tongue surface.  It’s not necessary to scrape hard; you do not want to bleed!  You simply need to press hard enough so that the tongue cleaner contacts your tongue flush across the surface, moving from the back of the mouth to the front. 

    Tongue cleaning will not kill the bacteria that are causing the bad breath below the surface of the tongue.  It’s job is to remove the gunky substance.  In order to get rid of the bacteria, you must use an oxygenating toothpaste which can penetrate beneath the tongue surface.  Please call us if you would like a recommendation on which brands to use!

     Brushing your tongue should be part of your daily mouth cleaning.  This small act can improve our breath almost instantly!

 

Your Gentle Dentists,

 

Dr. Simmons

(661) 947-3163