Ways to Treat White Tongue

May 7th 2016

The most common forms of white tongue simply need better oral hygiene to solve the problem. Check with your doctor if the condition does not go away after several days or if the whiteness worsens.

Oral Hygiene

Perhaps the best way to treat common causes of white tongue revolves around correct oral hygiene. White tongue most often comes from a buildup of food debris or bacteria on the surface of the tongue. WebMD suggests proper oral hygiene, including brushing teeth twice per day, once in the morning and once before bedtime. Floss once per day, and use an antibacterial mouthwash to get rid of unwanted germs in your mouth. Products that contain fluoride strengthen teeth and help remove bacterial plaque that attaches to teeth over time. Discuss a relevant oral hygiene regimen with your dentist, especially if you have some underlying health condition such as pregnancy, diabetes, cancer or heart disease.

Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco

A precancerous condition called leukoplakia causes white lesions on the tongue that cannot be scraped off. These lesions typically show up after chronic tobacco or alcohol use, and doctors recommend the easiest way to get rid of leukoplakia revolves around removing the irritant causing the lesions. That means quit smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol. Doctors may remove leukoplakia with a scalpel, a laser or with an extremely cold probe that freezes the precancerous cells. Your doctor should monitor this condition for recurrence after initial treatment.

Antifungal Treatments

Oral thrush, medically known as candidiasis, creates white spots on the tongue and in the mouth. These spots come from an overgrowth of yeast in the mouth that occurs due to an imbalance of bacteria in the mouth. This imbalance could occur because of prolonged use of antibiotics, illness, medications or stress. These white spots may scrape off to reveal the normal, red tongue underneath. Doctors may treat the overgrowth of yeast by prescribing oral antifungal medications in the form of tablets, lozenges or liquids.

Antiviral Medications

Hairy leukoplakia appears as a rough, white patch on the side of the tongue. The Epstein-Barr virus usually causes this condition in people who have some kind of immune disorder. Doctors may prescribe antiviral medications such as acyclovir to treat hairy leukoplakia. Recurrence of this condition happens often, so patients with hairy leukoplakia should have regular checkups.

Avoid Irritants

Some foods may irritate your mouth more than others, including spicy foods. Avoid foods that irritate your mouth, and see if white tongue resolves on its own. Doctors refer to this condition as oral lichen planus, especially when a doctor cannot determine an underlying cause for white tongue.


White tongue may come from several sources, including debris within the top layer of the tongue and infections that affect the mouth. Treatments for white tongue depend on the underlying cause of the condition.

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