It’s alarming to look in the mirror and see a white tongue, but you can treat this condition with natural home remedies.  As you know your tongue is supposed to be pink, a white-coated tongue is your body signaling to you that something is off or wrong. Sometimes it’s nothing to worry about, but other times, something more severe could be causing it. The tongue is covered with papillae – small nodules on the tongue that give it a rough texture. When food debris, bacteria and dead cells become lodged between inflamed papillae, white tongue occurs. It’s usually harmless and temporary, but it can also be an indication of an infection or a serious condition.

What Causes White Tongue?

The most common cause of white tongue is dehydration. A dry mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria. Brushing your teeth and tongue less than twice a day increases your risk of developing white tongue. It can also be caused by an overgrowth of candida, which is a fungus that causes yeast infections or oral thrush. Candida often lives inside the mouth. The problem arises when it accumulates. It can spread to the roof of the mouth, the gums, tongue, tonsils and the back of the throat. This creates white tongue, lesions, redness and even bleeding.

White tongue that cannot be scraped off and doesn’t go away after using antifungal treatments may be the result of a more serious condition. You should note that a white tongue accompanied by a sore throat may be symptoms of strep throat. Be sure to check the back of your throat for spots, as this, too, is a symptom of strep. White tongue can be caused by any of these factors:

  • Dehydration
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Illness or infection
  • Dry mouth
  • Fever
  • Reaction to certain medications, such as antibiotics or steroids
  • Candida yeast infection (oral thrush)
  • Smoking or tobacco use
  • Alcohol use
  • Spicy food such as habanero and jalepeno peppers
  • Congenital heart disease in adults

Natural Treatments For White Tongue

1. Baking Soda

Baking soda is able to exfoliate the tongue, removing any residue that causes white tongue. It also helps maintain good pH levels in the mouth by neutralizing acids. Simply mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with lemon juice until it creates a paste. Add the mixture to your toothbrush, then brush your tongue and mouth. Baking soda is also excellent for use on your teeth. It will help scrape away plague and other residue, again due to its ability to exfoliate. However, this exfoliation ability is a double-edged sword. You should only use baking soda on your teeth occasionally. Frequent or long-time use could cause your enamel to wear off. For temporary use as a remedy for white tongue, though, baking soda is extremely effective and safe to use.

2. Sea Salt

Sea salt and warm water makes for a great gargle solution for when you’re sick. It helps calm a raw, tender throat and also helps kill off bacteria. Additionally, thanks to the natural antibacterial properties of sea salt, gargling can help eliminate bacteria in the mouth that causes white tongue. The coarse texture of sea salt also works as an exfoliate. Combine sea salt and water to create a mouthwash. Use the mouthwash, then brush your teeth and tongue with the sea salt.

3. Oil Pulling

Coconut oil pulling is a great way to remove bacteria from the mouth. Research has shown, in fact, that this method is just as effective as mouthwash at improving bad breath and reducing the microorganisms that can cause bacteria buildup in the mouth. Swish 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes then spit it out in the trash. You’ll want to avoid spitting it into the sink, as the oil may clog of your drain and cause issues with your plumbing. After you’ve spit out the oil, rinse your mouth with warm water then brush your teeth as usual. Bonus: coconut oil pulling can also be an effective treatment for cavities and cavity prevention.

4. Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe vera has natural antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s commonly used to heal infections and treat burns. But Aloe vera isn’t just for sunburns! You can take Aloe vera gel from the plant orally for fantastic health benefits.  For example, it helps prevent constipation and may help to reduce wrinkles and other signs of aging.  Additionally, it helps lower blood sugar levels. But it can also be used to remove dead cells and destroy bacteria in the mouth. This includes fighting white tongue as well as dental disease. Swish 1 tablespoon of Aloe vera juice in your mouth 2-3 times daily until the coating his disappeared.

5. Probiotics

Oral thrush and white tongue can be caused by an imbalance of healthy bacteria in your gut. Eating probiotic foods helps to balance your get bacteria and treat health conditions related to candida. Probiotic foods include kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, miso soup, dark chocolate and kimchi.

However, you must make sure that the probiotic food you choose contains live active cultures. For example, if you choose your sauerkraut from the shelf, you won’t receive any probiotics. On the other hand, if your sauerkraut comes from the refridgerated section, and states that it contains live active cultures, you’re good to go.  You’ll also want to make sure that the probiotic source you choose doesn’t contain a high amount of added sugar, as this will be counterproductive to your efforts. Alternatively, you can take a probiotic supplement to help regain a healthy balance of bacteria.

When to See a Doctor

If your white tongue doesn’t disappear with these at-home remedies, it’s best to seek treatment from your doctor. There may be a more serious underlying cause at play. You can also ask your dentist about white tongue, or about any other changes you notice on your tongue or in or on other areas of your mouth. Above all, listen to what your intuition is telling you. If you sense something is severely wrong, don’t hesitate to seek medical help.

Global Healing Center
Mayo Clinic