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Why does white plaque appear on the tongue?

why a white coating on the tongue causes and treatment

Quite often during, before or after brushing teeth, people notice that there is a white plaque formed on the tongue. Do you need to worry when finding such a phenomenon? Or, perhaps, it is normal.

To understand the issue and to answer these questions, you need to know why the tongue is coated with a white plaque, what are the causes of it. In accordance with this information, it will be clear whether the plaque requires an individual treatment.

What is it?

First of all, it must be said that in a normal healthy state in a human a tongue must be pink only and not having any plaque. An exception may be only a short time in the morning after waking up.

However, even in this case, the plaque will be very pale and it is often enough to rinse the mouth to remove it.

The plaque itself is a collection of bacteria, dead skin particles, certain components of saliva naturally stored and not released in the normal way: when consuming solid food, rinsing, drinking, swallowing and other things.

For the most part, the appearance of plaque takes place on the far side of the tongue – where the root is. This is due to the structure of the organ itself. There are papillae in the root part, that are most prone to the retention of different micro particles on them.

Another factor – the farthest part of the tongue is the hardest to be naturally cleaned in the normal way, as it touches with the soft palate only.

Sometimes, deposits of different colors, including white, may occur after a meal. This, in no way, is a sign of an illness.

In terms of special papillae located on the tongue, quite sensitive to different dyes, among which food particles may remain. For example, after high-fat milk it can be can be seen that the surface of the tongue is covered with a light white coating, and after strong tea – brownish.

Common Problems And Illnesses

Everyone at one time or another may have a thin white plaque on the tongue, which is not a symptom or sign of any illness, and most often it is in the root part where cleaning is highly complicated.

This is especially noticeable in the morning and at very high ambient temperatures.

Human’s tongue is a kind of indicator of the health of the whole organism and individual organs. It is divided into zones, each of which is associated with a particular organ.

Some diseases (but not all) are characterized by a plaque on a particular part.

  • Lichen planus atrophicus. His initial stages are often accompanied by similar to white plaque layers, which almost cannot be cleaned. The fact is that such areas are a part of actinic mucous membranes.
  • The formation of the plaque of white color in the middle of the tongue, which may be accompanied by cracks also indicates that a person has some gastrointestinal diseases. This is mainly gastritis (both chronic and acute), duodenal ulcers, and ulcers of a stomach.
  • geographic tongue in children

    Photo: glossitis

    If mostly the root area is covered and sometimes the imprints of the teeth on the sides of the tongue are left, it is likely that the patient suffers enterocolitis.

    Often, during this disease, an inflammation of the tongue, called glossitis also develops.

  • Layering, resembling cottage cheese and having a white color, are the signs of dysbacteriosis (oral and in general), which is a consequence of an uncontrolled long-term use of steroids, immunosuppressants, antibiotics and similar medicine. At this time the removal of plaque can be very difficult, or, conversely, too easy.

    After his removal, a mucous surface is reddened. If plaque does not go away, you should not try too hard to do it, since the emergence of pain and burning sensations is possible, even bleeding of surfaces.

  • Candidiasis. Is caused by bacteria, pathogens Candida Pseudotropicalis, often accompanied by a plaque, the consistency of which resembles a foam. It occurs mainly in small children, but it is not necessarily only them.
  • Lung disease (bronchitis, pneumonia) also cause such plaque on the surface of the tongue. In this case, it is localized in the lateral areas of the front part.
  • The emergence of a large number of whitish layers, with which you can feel the smell of ammonia and notice a strong dryness, should cause a serious concern, as more likely, these are the symptoms of liver failure associated with azotemia and uremia.
  • Chronic sluggish candidiasis, cholecystitis, and hepatitis may provoke white, with a slight yellowish tint, plague.
  • Chronic kidney lesions may sometimes be accompanied on the sides of the root of the tongue with a white plaque. This is confirmed by not all doctors.
  • Scleroderma (systemic connective tissue disease that affects the majority of small vessels) also is accompanied with white layers on the surface of the mucosa. This is due to a large number of ulcers on the mucosa, its roughness, stiffness, and flabbiness of the tongue, limiting the width of the mouth opening.


First of all, be sure to find out the cause of this phenomenon. This is handled by experts, using modern methods of examination and various tests. Thereafter, the physician must refer the patient to a specialist of a narrower specialization or prescribe adequate treatment of the problem.

After removing the cause, it is possible to get rid of the plaque, but to accelerate it, it should be accompanied by some special local methods of treatment and prevention.

  • The most important method is regular cleaning of teeth and tongue. It is advisable to do so not only in the evening and in the morning but after every meal. To clean the tongue soft brush nozzles are used (or specially adapted for this purpose), for cleaning with hard bristles can cause severe irritation or mechanical damage to the mucous membrane and papillae.

    Hygiene is obligatory because it helps to get rid of bacteria accumulating in the mouth and starting to develop actively since the mouth is an ideal ambient for their reproduction and growth.

  • drug chargesMix in equal proportions linden flowers, plantain leaves, oregano, and yarrow.

    One tablespoon of the mixture is poured into a glass of boiling water, then breed for two and a half hours. The broth should be drunk for half a cup three times a day.

  • To stabilize the internal organs and intestines helps the decoction of flax seed, which should be drunk once a day on an empty stomach.
  • Prepare the infusion of the spoon of mint, strawberries, sage, and chamomile – pour the collection in boiling water (a glass), cool and drain. Rinse the mouth several times a day after a meal.
  • An oak bark is also sometimes used for rinsing. Preparation: Pour a glass of boiling water on one spoon, cool, filter.

If after using all the local methods the plaque remains or even increases and thickens, be sure to consult a doctor, as self-treatment can lead to aggravation of common diseases and their transition into the chronic stage.

In Newborns

If plaque does not look too dense and can be cleaned using washing syringe or oral syringe, it is not a problem then.

There is such a thing due to the fact that the baby is fed in almost all cases, only with the mother’s milk. It is quite fat and has a white color. Part of the milk stays between papillae.

If the phenomenon spreads wider – to the gums and cheeks, as well as accompanied by inflammation of the mucous, then surely it is thrush or candidiasis, resulting from the development of specific bacteria in the oral cavity. To avoid this, you need to thoroughly rinse a baby’s mouth after milk.

If the problem becomes protracted, and the tongue is coated for a long time, be sure to consult your doctor.

In A Child Older Than One Year

If in children on the tongue, there appears a thin, almost translucent white plaque, which is easy to remove, it should not be a cause for concern for parents.

This in most cases is the norm, if a normal pale pink color of the tongue is visible through the thin layering.

If the phenomenon is not only found in the morning but also stays the whole day, then it may be an indication of some diseases and pathologies, especially if already distributed on the cheeks and the palate.

why a white coating on the tongue of the child

  • The heterogeneous, with multiple ulcers and various patches plaque, is likely a sign of stomatitis of various types. Almost all kinds of the diseases are typical for children of different ages, including very young and school-age. It is hard to remove the layers; traces of bleeding are left after this. It is better to consult the dentist with this disease.
  • If a child older than one year at carefully followed oral hygiene has whitish not thick layers on the tongue during viral diseases affecting the nasopharynx (SARS, influenza), they are not dangerous and disappear almost immediately after recovery.
  • Dense layers formation in children older than one year can signal about the emergence of such problems as gastritis and dysbiosis. At the same time, also it is likely to be seen one of the following phenomena – abdominal distension, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, sometimes vomiting, abdominal pain. The therapist, in this case, can additionally refer to a gastroenterologist.
  • Slight yellowing of the plaque is one of the symptoms of diseases of the stomach and gall bladder. If at the same time a child complains of a bitter taste in the mouth, it means that part of the bile enters the mouth.
  • Certain diseases of the respiratory organs sometimes cause white layers on the tongue and its side surfaces.
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