Have you noticed your tongue looking whiter than usual? This is not an uncommon problem and is usually not something to be overly concerned about. Knowing what you are looking at and when you should be worried can be very helpful in situations like this. Of course, you can always come in for an appointment to be sure that is nothing you need to be concerned with, but here are a few things that you should know.
What Is White Tongue?
The coating on your tongue is actually an accumulation of a variety of things, including bacteria and dead cells along with the accumulation of the debris you have eaten throughout the day. These things make your tongue look white rather than pink and are often a cause for a patient’s worry.
What Causes White Tongue?
A white tongue is caused by excessive growth in the papillae on your tongue. The papillae can become damaged, inflamed, or infected as a result of what is going on inside your mouth. If you have an illness, you may notice your tongue becomes white. In addition, if there is any type of infection in your mouth that causes any changes, your tongue will be the first warning sign.
Typical Reasons for White Tongue
There are some very basic reasons for a white tongue, some of which can even be prevented. These include:
- Improper care of your oral health
- Drinking alcohol
- Irritation from oral appliances
Other reasons that a white tongue occurs that are not preventable include:
- Leukoplakia (white patches on your tongue) – These are usually harmless and often occur in smokers, but if they do not go away after a week or so, they should be checked out
- Thrush – This is a yeast infection in the mouth, which may or may not need medical attention, depending on the severity and length of time it occurs
- Cancer – Oral cancer is often hard to detect, but white patches on the tongue could be a good indication and should be checked out to be sure
A white tongue is usually not a big problem, but erring on the side of caution is always a good idea. Come in for an appointment so that we can see what is going on. As long as you keep up with your oral health care, come in for regular appointments, and regularly inspect your mouth for any unusual signs, any white areas of your tongue should be able to be handled in a non-invasive way.