Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What makes a person's tongue turn white?"
My tongue looks really white and I don't know why. Is there some kind of a bacteria in my mouth that might be making my tongue white?
There are few common causes of a whitish appearance to the tongue. Your primary care doctor can take a look at your tongue and help figure out which of these might be most likely. First of all, the tongue can often become coated with bacteria and food debris and this can give it a whitish appearance, especially if this is on the back half of the tongue. You can potentially confirming this diagnosis by brushing your tongue vigorously. If the whitish material comes off easily without any discomfort or bleeding, then this is probably what is going on, and an increase in oral hygiene, with close attention to the tongue might do the trick. Another cause of a white tongue is thrush, which is an infection of the mouth by yeast. This is most common in people who have chronic medical problems, who are taking antibiotics, or who wear dentures, but it can occasionally occur in otherwise healthy individuals as well. Finally, leukoplakia are white spots which occur in the mouth and are considered precancerous. They occur mostly in those who smoke or who drink a lot of alcohol. Start by seeing your primary care doctor for a diagnosis and further recommendations!
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