It’s a normal day for you at work, sifting through paperwork, returning emails and attending meetings. As you take a break to run to the restroom, you look in the mirror and notice that your tongue has a strange white film on it. You’re clueless as to why this coating is there, but your dentist in Vienna has answers on where it came from and how to prevent it in the future.
What is This Film on My Tongue?
The film you see on your tongue is from your papillae (fleshy raised portions of tissue lining your tongue) that have become swollen. In their inflamed state they can trap tiny particles of food, dead cells from your mouth or bacteria, which creates the white film that you see in the mirror.
In some other cases the papillae may not be inflamed, but debris may still foreign particles may still collect on your tongue.
Other Causes of the Film
- Dry Mouth – When your salivary glands are not producing enough saliva, it can cause your tongue to have a white coating. And this is a sign of a very dry mouth, which is a playground for harmful bacteria to grow.
Your saliva functions as internal mouthwash, full of natural anti-bacteria compounds and enzymes to break down food and rid your mouth of the attackers that cause plaque buildup and gum disease.
- Periodontal Disease – This is a bacterial infection that affects the gums, causing inflammation, bleeding, and shrinkage. Periodontal disease can also cause a film to form on your tongue, as bacteria run amuck, collecting there.
- Leukoplakia – This condition is the result of an overproduction of mouth cells, causing them to cluster on your tongue. It comes from chronic irritation to the soft tissue surface, from such things as rough teeth, bad fillings, or poorly fitting dentures that rub the tongue. Smoking and chewing tobacco also contribute to this condition.
- Oral Thrush – This is an infection caused by yeast, and tends to occur in the very young and old. If your immune system has been compromised due to a pre-existing condition, then you may also be more susceptible to oral thrush.
How to Prevent White Tongue
Two ways to prevent this white film buildup on the tongue are to practice thorough brushing and scraping. Since the tongue is a major factor in tasting and digesting food, then it also is a key carrier of bacteria leftover from eating. A thorough brushing of the tongue is a way to agitate the bacteria and then remove them through rinsing the mouth.
The other method, tongue scraping, has been proven to be even more effective at removing bacteria than the toothbrush. Its effectiveness lies in its more direct approach of applying pressure to the tongue and stripping away the bacteria versus just agitating it.
The final word on the matter is consistency. Be sure to maintain a consistent regimen of brushing, flossing, and scraping your tongue to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria. And finally, make sure to schedule a visit with your Vienna dentist for cleaning and examination (twice a year) to ensure your continued proper dental care.
About the Author
Dr. Hisham Barakat graduated from dental school in 1998, and then completed a one-year advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency at Louisiana State University. He also completed a two-year General Practice Residency at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. He practices at Vienna Smiles, and can be reached for more information through his website.