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Dental Health Message Board


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Re: White tongue
Apr 16, 2005
There's two possibilities when it comes to white-coated tongues: normal bacterial buildup or oral thrush, which is a fungal infection.

Many folks who notice white on their tongue get curious and jump online to research it. This leads to discovering massive amounts of information about thrush and many incorrect, at-home diagnoses.

Thrush usually involves some level of discomfort. Bleeding may also be present when the white fungal coating is scraped off. Thrush also can be noted on other areas of the inside of the mouth, not just the surface of the tongue. Thrush is easily treated in otherwise healthy individuals, but it must be properly diagnosed and the cause of the condition determined.

"Normal" white-coated tongue that is of a bacterial nature is generally harmless and much more common than many people realize. It can occur in individuals who are completely healthy and who have good oral hygiene. It can also occur in folks who might need a to spend a little extra time and attention with regard to caring for themselves.

Tongue-scrapers are sold for the purpose of cleaning this coating off the tongue. They are inexpensive and even have an interesting sort of "cult following." Some folks believe the root of other illnesses may lie within tongue bacteria and that scraping the tongue is a healthy routine. This is debatable, but what is certain is that scraping your tongue to remove the bacterial coating is NOT going to hurt you (provided you don't over-scrape and irritate your tongue). There's even a new toothbrush recently marketed that includes a tongue-scraper on one side.

It's not necessary to scrape your tongue, however. You can simply brush your tongue with your toothbrush. This takes some getting used to -- some folks gag a little at first. But if you want to try a tongue scraper -- go right ahead.

Dry mouth can lead to more prominent white tongue. Drink plenty of water and fluids. Rinse well after brushing. It's OK to use mouthwash, but excessive amounts of mouthwash containing alcohol can dry the oral cavity. People who eat too many candies and mints might get dry mouth. Smokers certainly have dry mouth.

Brush and floss and clean off your tongue and get plenty of fluids. As long as there's no pain or bleeding or spreading of the white coating to other areas -- odds are good there is nothing to worry about. You can, of course, see a doc or dentist for a definitive diagnosis. Most people who have thrush KNOW what it is right away -- it's not pleasant at all. Bacterial whiteness is common, "normal," and of little concern as long as the mouth is kept clean and hydrated and you are otherwise healthy.





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