If you happen to stretch out your tongue, you will find it to be pink in color. But if the tongue no longer retains its natural pink color and looks a little different from its original appearance, it is a sign of worry which you should act upon immediately. This condition is known as coated tongue wherein the tongue loses its natural color temporarily. You can characterize this condition by finding a white lining forming on the tongue’s upper surface that cannot be wiped or brushed away easily. The discoloration of the tongue can be due to several reasons. But it is the bacteria prevailing in your mouth that forces the tongue to change into a white or yellow color. In some cases, the tongue may even turn black. Let us look at the different reasons that cause a coated tongue.
Causes Of A Coated Tongue
Inflammation of the tongue’s papillae is amongst the common causes of a coated tongue. Papillae are tiny, finger-like projections that appear on the upper surface of the tongue. This is often caused due to mouth breathing, fever, smoking, and dehydration. It occurs due to the accumulation of food debris, dead cells, and bacteria between inflamed papillae, thereby creating a white coating on the tongue.
Another common reason behind a coated tongue is oral thrush, a fungal infection, often caused due to the overgrowth of a fungus called Candida Albicans. This condition is thus, referred to as Candidiasis of the mouth and throat. The overgrowth of the fungus occurs due to a change in the body’s acidity.
Leukoplakia is another condition that results in a white coating on the tongue and inner cheek lining. This is caused by irritants, such as alcohol and smokeless tobacco, and mostly affects older people.
Vaginal Yeast Infections
A pregnant woman suffering from vaginal yeast infection is likely to transfer the condition onto her baby. Thus, on delivery, many newborn babies develop a fungal infection that cause coated tongue which may last for up to the first few weeks after birth.
Consumption of prolonged or heavy doses of antibiotics can also cause coated tongue as a side effect. This is especially common in young children, who are unable to tolerate the effects of antibiotic medicines. While the antibiotics may succeed in killing the bacteria, they may also destroy the “good” bacteria. As a result, the Candida Albicans fungus overgrows and gives rise to a coated tongue.
Diabetes mellitus is a form of diabetes which when not controlled properly can shoot up sugar levels in the saliva. Consequently, it encourages the Candida Albicans fungus to grow, thereby causing coated tongue. Apart from diabetes, cancer and HIV/AIDS are other underlying conditions that can cause coated tongue.
If you have been suffering from colds or allergies, your tongue is likely to turn white in the morning due to the air you inhaled through your mouth throughout the night.
It is important to understand the causes of a coated tongue in order to determine the correct procedure to treat the infection. Also, practice good oral hygiene for a healthy tongue.