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Why is my tongue always white? — GP doctor in Puerto Banus

GP doctor in Puerto Banus

A white tongue is usually not a cause for concern. On the other hand, this symptom can occasionally serve as an early warning sign of a more serious condition, such as an infection or an early stage of cancer. That's why you should monitor your other symptoms and contact your doctor if the white coating persists after a few weeks. Keep reading to find out more about why this occurs and whether or not you should contact our GP doctor in Puerto Banus.


What is white tongue?

A "white tongue" is a common symptom of a thick white film coating your tongue.  This coating may cover the entire surface of the tongue, the back of the tongue, or appear in patches. Additionally, you may experience a bad taste in your mouth, bad breath, or redness.

White tongue is sometimes accompanied by a symptom known as hairy tongue. However, the thick fur-like coating you observe is not hair, but rather papillae – bumps containing your taste buds.

Causes of a white tongue

The presence of a white tongue is often linked to oral hygiene. When the papillae that line your tongue become swollen and inflamed, this can cause your tongue to turn white. Papillae are the tiny bumps that line your tongue.

It is possible for bacteria, fungi, dirt, food particles, and even dead cells to become lodged between the expanded papillae.  This debris that has accumulated is what causes your tongue to turn white.

White tongue can be caused by any of the following conditions:

  • improper brushing and flossing habits
  • mouth that's dry
  • inhaling and exhaling through your mouth
  • dehydration
  • consumption of a great deal of mushy foods
  • irritation, such as that caused by the pointed edges of your teeth or the dental instruments
  • fever
  • cigarette use or tobacco chewing
  • alcohol use

Why is my tongue white?

Having a white tongue can also be caused by a number of different conditions:

  • Leukoplakia: Leukoplakia is an excess of mouth lining cells. These cells interact with hair protein keratin to generate a white tongue patch. Alcohol and cigarettes can irritate your mouth and tongue, causing this illness. There's no clear cause sometimes. Leukoplakia is normally harmless, although it can become malignant years or decades later.
  • Oral lichen planus: Oral lichen planus is a long-term (chronic) inflammatory mouth ailment. It's caused by an immune system dysfunction (your body's protection against infections) It's not contagious.
  • Geographic tongue: Geographic tongue occurs when tongue skin re-grows. Upper tongue skin sheds excessively fast, causing red, sensitive regions that easily get infected. Parts of your tongue that stay too long turn white. Geographic tongue isn't contagious.
  • Oral thrush: Oral thrush is a Candida infection (fungus). When Candida grows too much in your mouth, it becomes an issue.
  • Syphilis: Syphilis is a bacterial illness spread through sexual contact (STI). It's a dangerous illness that causes white tongue.

When to call our GP doctor in Puerto Banus

If your sole symptom is a white tongue, you probably don't need to call our GP doctor in Puerto Banus just yet. But if it hasn't gone away after two weeks, you should probably give us a call.

Call our GP doctor in Puerto Banus right away if you see any of these more dangerous symptoms:

  • Your tongue hurts or burns.
  • You have wounds that are now open in your mouth.
  • You are having difficulty chewing, swallowing, and talking.
  • You also experience additional symptoms, such as a fever, loss of weight, or rash on your skin.