The treatment for a white tongue will largely depend on the cause behind it. Many people experience a whitish-yellow coating on the back of their tongue from time to time. This is typical as bacteria can get a good foot hold at the taste buds, resulting in a sticky white tongue that smells bad. Giving the white tongue a good scrub with your toothbrush, or using a tongue scraper will remove most of the white tongue coating, and eliminate most of the bad breath that comes with it. A follow up with antibacterial mouthwash should clear most of the white tongue coating.
However, there is a more serious cause for white tongue which requires medical treatment. This type of white tongue can cause complications if left untreated.
Many people are familiar with the white tongue coating some newborns have. This white tongue is a sign of Oral Thrush, and it may surprise you to know that adults are susceptible to it too. It is actually a fungal infection that, if left untreated, can spread into the throat.
What exactly is this white tongue coating made of? The answer is candida albicans, also known as yeast. This yeast is normally present throughout our bodies, in our digestive tracks and in our mucous membranes. So if it’s normal, then why has it suddenly resulted in a white tongue?
Our bodies also have good bacteria that normally keep the yeast in check, bringing a balance between the two, but if something happens to cause a good portion of these beneficial bacteria to die off, the yeast are allowed to multiply out of control. This is what causes the white tongue. If the yeast continues unchecked, you may find yourself coughing up curds of the white sticky junk from your throat.
What causes the beneficial bacteria to die off, leaving yeast to build up that white tongue coating? Certain types of medications used to treat other illnesses have the unwanted side-effect of killing off the good bacteria along with the bad. Antibiotics are most often found to be the cause. If the yeast over growth is left untreated it can invade your system, causing serious complications. It’s necessary that you see your doctor to get rid of the white tongue coating before things get out of hand.
Your doctor will first swab your throat to confirm the diagnosis. If your white tongue coating is actually a yeast infection, your doctor will likely prescribe an anti-fungal such as oral Fluconazole, the same medication often prescribed for women with vaginal yeast infections. Fluconazole may begin to provide relief in as little as one or two days, but it will be necessary to follow up with your doctor to make sure that sticky white tongue yeast infection is gone.
A white tongue is not cause for immediate alarm, but if a good scrub doesn’t remove the white tongue coating and you begin to show signs of further infection, seek medical assistance. The treatment for white tongue is generally painless.