White tongue essentially results when the papillae, which are the tongue’s finger-like projections, become inflamed. The appearance of a white coating occurs when bacteria, dead cells and debris get lodged between the inflamed papillae. Causes of the inflammation include smoking, fever, dehydration, excessive alcohol use and even excessive mouth breathing. Even though a white tongue typically is temporary and harmless, it can look alarming. Try to clean a white tongue regularly to keep your breath fresh and your tongue healthy looking.
Things You'll Need
- Tongue scraper
Stick your tongue out as far as possible while looking in a mirror. Observe the area in which most debris has accumulated, which typically is in the back -- or posterior -- part of the tongue.
Position a tongue scraper as far back on your tongue as possible. Push the scraper down so that it rests forcefully against your tongue and conforms to the shape of the surface. If you gag at this point, move the scraper forward, so that it is closer to the middle of your tongue, but still as far back as possible, without triggering your gag reflex.
Pull the tongue scraper slowly toward the front of your tongue. Remove the debris -- which mostly is the result of greasy foods rich in fat -- from the scraper by rinsing the device under running water.
Repeat Steps 2 and 3 multiple times, until you see the white film on your tongue begin to disappear. Stop when you notice you can no longer remove more debris. Clean and dry your tongue scraper to prevent bacteria from remaining on it. Store it in a clean place, until you plan to use it again. Try to use the scraper every other day.
Brush your tongue twice a day, just as you brush your teeth twice daily. Use a toothpaste that contains a bactericide such as Triclosan, along with a soft toothbrush. Brush the tongue slowly and gently until you remove as much of the white layer on your tongue as possible.
Gargle with an antibacterial mouthwash, which can help reduce the bacterial count on your tongue and thus stop bacterial activity in your mouth. In addition, drink plenty of water, which can help keep your tongue relatively free of debris.