What Does It Mean When Your Tongue Is White?


White tongue is a common condition that is seen in both children and adults. While this doesn’t indicate a danger, it certainly is a discomfort. However,  Individuals who experience a white tongue are likely to have any underlying health issue, which may not cause any threat to their life. This is exactly why people are usually unbothered about this. 

Nevertheless, this article aims to educate you regarding the potential causes, and symptoms as well as its precautions. 

What Does A Normal Tongue Look Like? 

Although the aim of this article is to explore the condition of the white tongue, it is important for you to make a clear image in your mind of a normal tongue. The tongue is a muscular organ that is filled with taste receptors or papillae.

Usually, a healthy tongue is pink in color and it doesn’t have any unwanted texture on it. It helps in tasting and swallowing food. Moreover, without a proper functioning tongue, we wouldn’t be able to talk like how we used to. 

Causes Of White Tongue 

White tongue can be caused due to different reasons, and they are discussed below: 

Causes Of White Tongue 
  • Oral Lichen Planus– Oral Lichen Planus is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the entire mouth, including the tongue, causing white lines over them. Although the exact cause of the condition is yet to be discovered, many scientists have found that Oral Lichen Planus is diagnosed in individuals with low immunity. 
  • Oral Thrush- Oral Thrush is the common cause of white tongue and it is the overgrowth of the Candida fungus, which is vulnerable to mouth. This fungus is seen in individuals who take antibiotics, or people with low immunity. Sometimes, maintaining poor hygiene may also result in the build-up of such bacteria in the mouth. 
  • Dry Mouth- A white can also be caused due to dehydration, which makes your mouth suitable for the dead cells and debris to build up. 
  • Leukoplakia– Leukoplakia is the condition where one’s tongue gets covered with thick white patches. This occurs mainly due to uncontrolled tobacco use, and dentures. 

Symptoms Of White Tongue 

A white coating is a much visible symptom of a white tongue, but, there are also other symptoms that may or may not be noticeable like bad breath, difficulty in speaking, and swallowing, reduces taste buds, and so on. 

How Can You Prevent A White Tongue? 

Prevention is far better than cure, and therefore, carefully go through all the points mentioned below so that you can get away from a white tongue before it reaches you. 

  • Make necessary oral hygiene modifications
  • Use a tongue scraper every time you brush 
  • Ensure your mouth is not dry 
  • Avoid alcohol consumption
  • Seek medical attention as soon as you notice unusual white patches on your tongue 

Is Medical Attention Necessary For A White Tongue? 

A white tongue is often left unbothered due to its common nature and silly causes. However, not every whit tongue indicates a silly reason, sometimes, it might be indicating an oral cancer, which is the most of which you can expect from this condition. Therefore, it is necessary to consult a health professional before it is too late. 


While a white tongue is often temporary, some of its symptoms are unbearable either to you or your near ones. These situations warrant medical supervision and they can be easily cured if the cause is not serious like oral cancer.

Appropriate treatment can only be decided after diagnosing the ultimate cause of a white tongue, therefore, seeking medical advice is recommended. 

Dr. Jun Ren is a dedicated and experienced registered dietitian and nutritionist who is committed to helping people achieve their health goals through personalized nutrition plans. With a passion for promoting healthy eating habits and preventing chronic diseases, Dr. Ren has been able to assist numerous clients in improving their overall quality of life.

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