White Tongue Causes and Natural Treatments

Have you ever stopped to take a look at your tongue?

Ever noticed its color or texture?

The Chinese have used the health and appearance of the tongue as a diagnostic tool for centuries, and this muscle can actually tell you a lot about your current health.

Our guide shares with you all the many reasons you may have a white tongue, as well as the best natural treatments to help treat the underlying causes.

While having a white tongue may not seem all that important, this can actually be a symptom of a larger problem.

Your tongue is sensitive to many changes within your body, and when you notice a white, sticky, or fuzzy surface to your tongue, it’s time to pay attention.

Keep reading to learn more about how your tongue can help you determine what may be wrong with you, plus plenty of natural home remedies that can help clear up the causes of your white tongue.


Understanding White Tongue

Your tongue’s surface is normally pink and has a rough texture.

The small nodules that make up the surface of your tongue are called papillae, and these can sometimes develop a white appearance when they become inflamed, and dead cells, bacteria, or other debris become lodged between them (1).

While having a white tongue is generally harmless and usually resolves on its own, it can also be a sign that you may have an infection or other medical problem.

What are some of the causes, then, of a white tongue?


Causes of White Tongue

Having a white tongue could be caused by any number of factors, including:

  • Being dehydrated
  • Infection or illness
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • A Fever
  • Dry mouth
  • Oral thrush, a kind of yeast infection
  • Medications like steroids and antibiotics
  • Tobacco products
  • Alcohol
  • Some kinds of spicy peppers
  • Congenital heart disease

Most often, a white tongue is the result of being dehydrated or having a dry mouth.

Lack of water in your mouth and throat can create a breeding area for bacteria.

Poor oral hygiene, including not brushing your teeth at least twice per day, is also a leading cause of white tongue.

Another common cause of white tongue is oral thrush, an overgrowth of the candida fungus that causes a yeast infection in your mouth and/or throat.

While you likely have some amount of candida yeast cells in your mouth all the time, this fungus can easily grow uncontrollably and cause problems.

Oral thrush causes not only a white tongue, but also redness, lesions, and sometimes bleeding (2).

If you have a white tongue accompanied by fatigue, mental confusion, or other symptoms, you may have thrush.

Occasionally, having a white tongue can be a sign that you have a more serious medical problem.

If you have a white tongue and also a sore throat, you may have strep throat.

Several types of bacteria can cause a white tongue, including periodontal disease, syphilis, and some chronic autoimmune disorders.

Other serious medical problems that cause white tongue are:

  • Leukoplakia, when mouth cells grow excessively
  • Geographic tongue, which includes reddish spots on the tongue

If your white tongue does not improve with treatment, you should see your doctor to be sure you do not have one of these more serious problems.

There is some evidence that links the appearance of the tongue with the function of your stomach and spleen, and it can be impacted by inflammation of your stomach, chronic gastritis, or other gastrointestinal problems (3).

If your tongue is white at the center or near the back, then, this could be a sign of imbalanced gut bacteria, stress, nutritional deficiencies, or other GI issues.

Even if your white tongue is not the result of a serious disease or disorder, it is still an indication that something is out of balance.

Treating your white tongue naturally can restore the balance of healthy bacteria, improve your nutrition and hydration, and keep your system running properly.


What about Bumps on My Tongue?

Your tongue is covered in papillae, the small bumps that give your tongue its texture.

These bumps are normal and actually beneficial.

Small bumps on your tongue are generally temporary and harmless.

When these bumps become enlarged, which they can do from time to time, they can provide a home for bacteria in your mouth.

When you have poor oral hygiene, this can create more bacteria, which increases the likelihood that your tongue can change texture or color.

Sore or painful bumps on your tongue can be caused by eating food that is too hot, biting your tongue accidentally, food allergies, canker sores, a cold sore, or a bacterial infection.

Smoking can also irritate your mouth and tongue, which can cause soreness, bumps, or a discolored tongue (4).

If you have a single bump on just one side of your tongue that is painful, you may want to have your dentist examine it.

Now that we understand what may cause a white tongue, it’s easier to understand the many different natural treatments that are available.

Below, we share our favorite natural remedies for returning your white tongue to normal.


Treating White Tongue Naturally

Your tongue is a very sensitive and strong muscle, and it controls your ability to taste, talk, and swallow.

There are many ways you can take care of your tongue and mouth that can get rid of your white tongue and help you have a healthier oral environment.


Proper Oral Hygiene

Maintaining proper oral hygiene is one of the most important steps you can take to treat your white tongue.

Brushing your teeth and tongue at least twice a day is the best way you can remove unwanted bacteria from your mouth, and keep your teeth, gums, and oral tissue healthy.

Tongue scraping is another way to remove bacteria, dead cells, and other debris from your tongue that can cause white tongue.

Scraping your tongue can help relieve bad breath, as well as get rid of your white tongue.

Tongue scraping can actually remove more bacteria than just brushing your tongue with a toothbrush (5).



When you have an overgrowth of candida yeast in your mouth, you can develop oral thrush.

Taking probiotics or eating foods rich in them is a great way to restore naturally the healthy bacteria in your gut and mouth that keep candida in check and prevent overgrowth (6).

Probiotics also support your oral health because they inhibit unwanted microbes from adhering inside your mouth.

You can take probiotic supplements, or consume foods or drinks that are fermented or cultured.

Excellent additions to your diet include sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, pickled vegetables, kombucha, yogurt, and miso.


Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is becoming a popular technique for removing bacteria from the mouth.

This technique has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to clean the mouth and remove germs and debris.

Oil pulling is essentially swishing some type of oil around in your mouth for about 20 minutes.

The most common types of oil used are sunflower oil, sesame oil, and coconut oil.

The antibacterial properties of coconut oil make it an excellent choice for oil pulling.

The oil attracts debris and microbes in your gums, on your tongue, and between your teeth, leaving you with a cleaner, healthier mouth (7).

If you have a white tongue due to bacteria in your mouth, oil pulling could be an easy solution to help restore your oral health.

If you have oral thrush, coconut oil is also effective at eliminating candida.


Baking Soda

Baking soda is a simple home remedy that can help remove the dead cells and other particles in your mouth that may be causing you to have a white tongue.

The gritty nature of baking soda means it can exfoliate your tongue tissue, and its alkaline properties mean it can help you maintain a proper pH in your mouth, as well.

Baking soda can also be used to kill some types of bacteria in your mouth, including Streptococcus mutans (8).

Eliminating the source of a possible infection is an effective way of preventing the white tongue from forming.

To use baking soda, mix a small amount with lemon juice to create a paste, then dip your toothbrush into it before brushing your teeth and tongue.


Sea Salt

Sea salt can be used in a number of ways to treat white tongue.

Its antibacterial properties make it effective for eliminating germs in your mouth, and because of its coarse texture, it also helps with the removal of dead cells and debris that could additionally be causing white tongue (9).

You can gargle with a mixture of sea salt and warm water to destroy bacteria in your mouth and throat.

Combine a small amount of sea salt with water, then use this as a mouthwash before you brush your teeth, to loosen debris.

Or you can brush your tongue and teeth with a toothbrush dipped in sea salt to rid your mouth of particles that cause a white coating to build up.

The trace minerals and coarse texture of sea salt make it ideal for treating white tongue.


Vegetable Glycerin

If your white tongue is due to dry mouth, vegetable glycerin may help you.

Readily available in natural foods stores, vegetable glycerin can help moisturize your mouth, eliminate bad breath, and treat your white tongue.

To use, place a few drops of vegetable glycerin on your tongue, then lightly brush it with a soft-bristle toothbrush to massage the oil into your tongue.

Using warm water, rinse your mouth thoroughly, repeating this process twice daily until your tongue appears normal.



An excellent, natural antimicrobial, turmeric can be used to treat white tongue, as well.

Turmeric has the ability to destroy bacteria and prevent new microbes from thriving.

Mix one-half of a teaspoon of ground turmeric with lemon juice to form a paste, then use this to scrub your tongue for several minutes.

Thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water.

Doing this once a day should resolve your white tongue quickly.

You can also gargle twice a day with a mixture of turmeric and water to keep your tongue and mouth healthy.


Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe vera is used frequently to heal skin, reduce inflammation, and get rid of wounds and infections.

Did you know you can also use it to heal your mouth?

Swish with one tablespoon of aloe vera juice for several minutes at least three times a day to remove the white coating on your tongue.

Aloe vera’s compounds can remove dead cells, as well as help, grow new, healthy tissue (10).


Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver is used to address bacterial and fungal infections of all types.

It is even effective against highly contagious pathogens like herpes and pink eye, so using it to kill the microbes that may be causing your white tongue is an excellent choice.

Colloidal silver promotes healing, as well as reduces inflammation.

To make an effective treatment for a white tongue, combine equal parts colloidal silver and water.

Swish this mixture around in your mouth for at least five minutes, repeating twice a day until your white tongue disappears.


Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil’s many uses include as an immune booster as well as an anti-inflammatory.

Tea tree oil can repair damaged oral tissue, as well as eliminate the white tongue, while also helping your immune system prevent future problems with white tongue.



As an antifungal, garlic is a good option for treating white tongue due to oral thrush.

Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which has been shown to be as effective at reducing fungal infections as prescription medications (11).

If you have oral thrush that is causing a white tongue, you can take a raw, organic garlic supplement, or swallow one clove of raw garlic daily, until your symptoms are alleviated.


Oregano Oil

Oregano oil is an excellent treatment for not only candida overgrowth but also other bacteria or viral infections that can lead to the white tongue (12).

If you have recently taken antibiotics and now have a white tongue, oregano oil can address that, as well.

If you have oral thrush, treating it with oregano oil should be the first line of defense before trying other options, because it is so effective.


Pau D’arco Tea

The bark of the pau d’arco tree, which is native to the rainforests of South and Central America, has powerful anti-inflammatory and antifungal compounds.

Drinking tea made from this tree’s bark can help treat oral thrush (13).

After brewing tea, allow it to cool, then sip it slowly throughout the day.



You can use several different types of fruits to help you treat your white tongue.

Many fruits are naturally antimicrobial, and because they are also high in essential vitamins and minerals, they can help you get and stay healthy via their antioxidants and immune-boosting properties.

The first method is to create a paste by mashing fresh strawberries.

Naturally high in citric acid, strawberries can not only help whiten your teeth but also get rid of your white tongue (14).

Place the strawberry paste on your toothbrush, then gently brush your tongue.

Wait for five minutes, then rinse with warm water. Repeat daily until your white tongue is resolved.

Alternately, you can use apples, which are also great for your oral hygiene.

Apples can clean your tongue effectively, help eliminate bacteria, and whiten your teeth, too.

To use, first peel an apple and remove all the seeds. Blend the apple to create a paste.

Apply the apple paste to your tongue, then wait ten minutes.

You can use a tongue scraper or your toothbrush to scrape off the apple paste, as well as the white coating on your tongue.

Repeat daily to treat your white tongue.


When to See Your Doctor

White tongue symptoms usually clear on their own within a few days.

If yours linger or do not respond to any of the natural treatments recommended above, it may be necessary to see your doctor or dentist.

Your doctor can investigate other causes of your white tongue.

If your white tongue is accompanied by other symptoms, including fatigue, a fever, a sore throat, or painful bumps on your tongue, you should also consider contacting your doctor.



The health of your tongue and mouth are a good indicator of the health of other parts of your body.

When you have a white coating on your tongue, this can signal minor or even major problems in other parts of your body.

A white tongue is usually the result of bacteria, fungus, dead cells, or other debris becoming lodged in the tiny bumps on our tongue.

White tongue can be caused by dehydration, poor oral hygiene, oral thrush, or other types of infections.

Besides drinking plenty of fluids and taking care of your teeth, gums, and other oral tissues, there are many natural remedies that can be used to heal your white tongue.

The most effective natural treatments include baking soda, aloe vera, probiotics, oil pulling, sea salt, turmeric, colloidal silver, tea tree oil, garlic, and oregano oil.

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