White Tongue: Can Probiotics Help This Common Digestive Health Issue?
7 minute read
While having a white tongue may not look so great, and it may even frighten you a little, it’s usually a harmless condition. Your tongue doesn’t actually turn white; it’s a white coating along the top surface of your tongue that you see.
It may even be patches of white, but either way, there is not much to fret over. Sometimes, it can be indicative of another condition, so it’s always good to know the reasons for a white tongue.
Treating a white tongue may not be very difficult, despite the strange appearance. Probiotics (beneficial bacteria) may offer a new means of preventing and even getting rid of a white tongue.
What a White Tongue Means
The presence of a white coating on your tongue typically indicates oral hygiene issues. When the tiny bumps along the surface of your tongue become inflamed, they swell. When this happens, food, bacteria, dirt, and even dead cells can become trapped between the enlarged bumps. It’s the collection of debris that is responsible for the white appearance of your tongue.
The top reasons this can happen include:
♦ Dry mouth
♦ Poor brushing and flossing habits
♦ Eating too many soft foods
♦ Smoking or chewing tobacco
♦ Alcohol consumption
♦ Breathing through your mouth
Outside of these circumstances, certain health conditions have been linked to white tongue. It’s important to understand these conditions so that you can seek professional treatment should one of them be the underlying reason for your white tongue.
The good news is that even if one of these conditions is discovered, there are treatment options available.
Leukoplakia: This condition causes white patches on the inside of your cheek, along your gums, and sometimes on your tongue too. Excessive alcohol use and smoking are known to cause this condition, and although the patches are generally harmless, they can lead to oral cancer in rare cases.
Leukoplakia requires no treatment because quitting smoking or cutting back on alcohol will cause the patches to go away.
Oral thrush: This is an oral infection caused by the yeast Candida. While this yeast lives in your body in small quantities, it can sometimes grow out of control. This is especially common when you have diabetes or a weakened immune system. Oral thrush is cleared up with doses of antifungal medication.
Syphilis: This sexually transmitted disease can cause sores to develop in your mouth, and if left untreated, these cause white patches to form on your tongue. If you are concerned about this, you should be tested immediately.
Geographic tongue: This is a harmless condition caused by inflammation. It can look alarming but is harmless and not associated with any infection or cancer. It is linked to the development of white patches along the tongue’s surface though.
Cancer: Certain forms of cancer can also lead to the development of white tongue. Mouth or tongue cancer may cause this condition as a result of a weakened immune system allowing bacteria to collect along the tongue’s surface.
Medicines: Certain drugs and antibiotics have also been shown to cause white tongue, but this condition will typically reverse once the medications are stopped. If you notice that a medication you are taking causes this, speak with your doctor about finding an alternative.
White Tongue Be Gone
Often white tongue will clear up on its own. There is not always a need to treat it. Gentle brushing or cleaning of your tongue can remove many white patches and drinking plenty of water can flush away harmful mouth bacteria.
Treatment will only be required if your white tongue is caused by or linked to another condition. Treatment will depend on what that condition is.
As has been stated, certain conditions are linked to white tongue or cause it, so you may not always be able to prevent it. For the most part, however, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of getting white tongue.
Practicing good oral hygiene is essential to preventing white tongue, and this includes:
♦ Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
♦ Brush your teeth twice a day
♦ Use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash
♦ Floss once a day
♦ Visit your dentist every six months for a cleaning and check-up
♦ Avoid alcohol and tobacco
♦ Eat a balanced and varied diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
When a disease or illness is not the cause for white tongue, the white coating develops as a result of bacteria becoming trapped on the surface of your tongue. Candida yeast is a common culprit and can easily take over your mouth when left unchecked.
The bacteria in your gut play an important role in keeping this yeast and other harmful bacteria in check. Therefore, these microorganisms can help prevent white tongue.
Poor diet, stress, illness, and overuse of antibiotics can cause the good bacteria in your gut to become depleted. When this happens, harmful organisms can grow, such as the case with Candida and white tongue.
Many do not realize that your gut health influences your overall health, but a balanced and happy gut is a great ally. Probiotic supplements are the best way to keep your gut colony balanced so that it’s able to defend against these opportunistic infections.
In addition to a probiotic supplement to help prevent or treat white tongue, you can try probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. You also want to support the bacteria already living in your gut, and the best way to do this is with prebiotic strains.
Prebiotics are fibers found in food that feed the good bacteria and allow them to colonize and protect your gut. Fibers found in fresh vegetables and grains are the best.
White tongue may not usually be a dangerous condition, but it definitely warrants your attention. The causes can range from bad oral hygiene to a serious health problem, so you should keep an eye out for worsening symptoms.
White tongue is easy to resolve and treat once you identify the cause. Because the reason is most often linked to a harmful bacterial presence, the use of a pre and probiotic supplement is the best way to prevent white tongue and promote overall digestive health.