You know what your tongue is supposed to look like – so it’s only natural to get worried when you wake up in the morning, go to brush your teeth and notice that your tongue is white or discoloured!
A white tongue isn’t normal, and can indicate a number of different issues or problems.
While there’s plenty of information online, uncovering which specific issue is afflicting your tongue requires a professional’s opinion, especially with so much conflicting information out there.
Fortunately, very few of them are quite as bad as you’re thinking – but that’s not an excuse to ignore getting your oral health looked after by your family dentist in Armadale!
What is your tongue telling you? The most common causes of a white tongue
In the vast majority of cases, a white tongue is directly tied to oral hygiene.
As we’re sure you’ve noticed, the surface of your tongue isn’t smooth – rather, it’s covered in thousands and thousands of tiny little bumps.
It’s natural for bacteria, food, dead cells and more to build up in these gaps. The problem is that if you don’t maintain good oral hygiene, this build-up can reach the point where you’re left with an unmissable white coat on your tongue.
What diseases and conditions can affect the tongue?
While poor hygiene is the most common cause of a white tongue, it isn’t the only one.
Unfortunately, tongue problems can often be the result of a deeper issue, including:
- Oral thrush – when your tongue becomes infected with Candida yeast, your tongue might be left with a white coating
- Syphilis – it isn’t unheard of for this STI to cause sores and occasionally, white patches on your tongue
- Leukoplakia – occurring frequently in smokers, this condition often results in white patches inside your cheeks and your tongue
- Oral lichen planus – this inflammatory condition affects the mucous membranes in your mouth, and often manifests in the form of a white film over your gums and – you guessed it – tongue
Unlike hygiene-related conditions, these ones often require special treatment such as antibiotics to help clear it up.
Injuries and trauma
Accidentally biting down on your own tongue hurts. After receiving a first-hand example of the power of the human jawbone, you should check your tongue over the coming hours and days.
Sometimes, biting down on your tongue can cause injuries such as sores and inflammation, which often manifest as white patches or spots on your tongue.
Normally, these will heal on their own – still, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them to ensure they heal, and don’t get worse.
What does the colour of your tongue say about your health?
Your most common questions, answered!
Do I see a doctor or a dentist for tongue issues?
While the word “dentist” is derived from the Latin word dentalis meaning “tooth”, the teeth aren’t the only thing your local dentist deals with!
Your dentist is an oral health professional who specialises in treating all sorts of issues affecting your mouth, including your tongue.
As such, any issues with your tongue should be looked at by a dentist rather than your regular GP.
Thanks to their specialisation in oral health, they’ll help you figure out what’s causing your unhealthy tongue.
What do the early signs of tongue cancer look like?
As we mentioned above, the vast majority of white tongue cases are harmless, or relatively easy to resolve.
In a small number of cases however, it could be a sign of tongue cancer.
Certain conditions such as leukoplakia can very rarely develop into oral cancer, while in some cases, cancer can first manifest as a persistent white patch that doesn’t come off regardless of how hard you clean your tongue.
What does a B12 deficiency tongue look like?
B12 is a vitamin that plays a crucial role in many functions, including producing red blood cells.
If you aren’t getting enough of this vitamin, your body might struggle to make enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body.
In addition to making you feel tired and weak, a vitamin B12 deficiency can also make you look pale – something that extends to your tongue.
While a pale and light-coloured tongue is a common symptom of this issue, as something that affects your entire body, we suggest seeking help from your GP.
How do you get rid of a coated tongue?
Good oral hygiene is the key
As we mentioned before, the vast majority of coated tongue cases are caused by not taking care of your tongue – simple changes to your oral hygiene routine can prevent it from happening altogether.
It’s important that you keep your tongue clean and healthy – that’s why so many toothbrushes come with those tiny rubber pads on the back for brushing your tongue!
Gently brushing the surface of your tongue in the morning and evening can go a long way towards remedying this issue.
At Dental Care Group we are big proponents for tongue cleaning with a tongue scraper. The best tongue scraper we believe exists is sold at Dental Care Group and is quite inexpensive and very long lasting. We believe this is a better option than tongue cleaning with a toothbrush.
Make lifestyle changes
There are certain lifestyle choices that just aren’t very good for your dental health – chief among them, smoking and drinking.
While both of these habits aren’t great for your oral health, a lot of the time, people focus on the impact they have on your gums and teeth, not on your tongue.
As we mentioned above, these habits can both result in conditions such as leukoplakia, which in turn results in a white tongue.
Kicking these nasty habits won’t just stop your tongue from going white in the first place – it’ll also improve your oral health across the board.
See a dental professional
There are many different reasons why your tongue is white – identifying the right one can be borderline impossible.
If you’re unsure what’s going on with your tongue? Looking for treatment options? If so, your local dentist in Armadale should be your first port of call!
An oral health professional can help:
- Diagnose the cause of your tongue problem
- Suggest treatments
- Help improve your oral health regime
- Perform ongoing checkups
All of which help you keep your entire mouth – tongue included – healthy.
Keeping your tongue healthy starts by seeing your friendly neighbourhood dentist
Looking for a dental clinic in Armadale to take a look at your tongue?
Our oral health experts don’t just look after every part of your oral health – our team of family dentists work with every member of the family, whether it’s a toddler who’s teething for the first time or your elderly grandmother.
Give us a ring at any time. Our phone line is always on, and we’re always ready to reply to emails, making us a 24 hour dental clinic – just what you need during an unexpected dental emergency.