A White Tongue: Causes and Solutions

To maintain the balance and health of our mouth, it's very important to have good oral hygiene. In case we have an infection, we must also clean our tongue and rinse with mouthwash.
A White Tongue: Causes and Solutions
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Generally, having a white tongue is a sign of improper oral hygiene. However, it can also mean there’s some sort of health problem; maybe a digestive or liver issue, among others. Along with a white coloring in your tongue, you may also experience a bitter taste and a pasty feeling in your mouth.

In case you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, pay close attention to them. They could be a sign that you’re not eating correctly or that there’s something wrong with your digestive system. Next, we’ll explain everything you should know about this.

Why is my tongue white?

First of all, you should know that a white tongue doesn’t necessarily indicate a serious condition. However, paying close attention to the symptoms can be really helpful. In most cases, the causes for a white tongue can be fixed easily by eating healthy and having a good oral hygiene.

Usually, the color of your tongue is related to your digestive system, but mostly to your stomach and liver. If you’re also experiencing cold sores or ulcers in your mouth, it may be due to a week immune system. And so it would be necessary to boost your natural defenses. As you can see, a white tongue is no mystery. It’s only effects, results, and problems associated with the need for a better diet. But let’s look at it more closely.

1. Oral thrush

Woman worried about having a white tongue

They are what we call sores. It’s normal that you don’t only have a white tongue, but also experience a burning sensation, a strange taste in your mouth, trouble swallowing and pain when you eat something hot or spicy.

It’s also normal that you get small ulcers in your gums, lips and side or top walls of your mouth or even in the back wall of your throat.

2. Lack of oral hygiene

In the same way you brush your teeth, you should scrape your tongue lightly. Your tongue stores bacteria that you must remove. That bacteria can also cause you to have a white tongue along with an unpleasant taste. Remember, one gentle daily brushing and your tongue will look much better.

3. Smoking

Woman breaking a cigarette

If you smoke, we recommend once again that you try to quit; for the sake of your health, lifespan and the quality of your life as well as for aesthetics. Your teeth become yellowish, your tongue turns white and bacteria builds up, causing you to wake up in the morning with a taste that’s as uncomfortable as it is unpleasant. Choose to quit today.

4. Gastritis

The liver of a person

A white tongue and bad mouth taste are one of the first symptoms of gastritis. But you must also look out for other symptoms.

Does your belly feel swollen? Do you have gas, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea or a lack of appetite? These are usually other symptoms associated with the inflammation of the lining of your stomach, also known as gastritis.

Note that if these symptoms become much more serious, you should go to your doctor to receive proper treatment. Sometimes it’s simply a mild inflammation that can last two or three days. A white tongue can be an example of a problem in your stomach that you can fix through diet and appropriate guidelines.

5. You need to cleanse your liver

Usually, a white or yellow tongue is almost always due to either a digestive problem, poor oral hygiene, or ultimately, because you need to cleanse your liver. Let’s see what other symptoms you should consider in order to link this problem to a liver issue:

  • Decreased appetite with heavy digestion
  • Headache
  • Pasty mouth with a bitter taste
  • Swollen belly
  • Gas
  • Oily skin with pimples
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Neck pain
  • Cramps and poor circulation
  • Muscle fatigue

Remedies to get rid of a white tongue

A glass of pineapple juice that can help with a white tongue

Usually, whenever you get a bad taste in your mouth or see a white or yellow tongue, you should follow the following tips:

  • Eat fermented sugar-free yogurt at least once a day. This keeps the balance of good bacteria both on your tongue and intestines, which also helps to boost your defenses.
  • Start the morning with a glass of lemon juice and a half a teaspoon of baking soda. This helps to cleanse your body.
  • Try eating raw vegetables in your salads: spinach, tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, peppers cut into small pieces, onions…
  • Increase your intake of liquids that are rich in antioxidants. Water and natural juices are great examples; cranberry juice is purifying and takes care of your digestive system. Carrots, beets, and apples also help with this. 
  • Increase your fruit consumption: oranges, tangerines, and especially pineapples and papayas all have a high dose of vitamin C. They’re easily digested, and help you eliminate toxins from your body.

Remember that when you brush your teeth, you should do the same with your tongue. You can also help yourself with alcohol-based mouthwashes.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.