The tongue is a powerful organ made of many muscles and is primary organ of taste. The tongue is, furthermore, necessary for proper phonetic articulation and it also participates in the process of chewing food. One more function of the tongue is cleaning of the teeth.
Everyone can notice changes in the tongue's appearance just by sticking out the tongue and looking at it with the aid of a mirror. The tongue is also checked during physical exams performed by doctors. The appearance of the tongue may point to some underlying illnesses. There are many changes which may affect the tongue and they include a change in color, smoothness, the occurrence of ulcers and fissures or even lumps and bumps. One such change is, a white appearance of the tongue which is most commonly accompanied by bad breath.
Causes of White Tongue and Bad Breath
One of the causes of white tongue and bad breath is leukoplakia. Leukoplakia is a precancerous lesion which, apart from the tongue, can affect other parts of the mouth such as the inner surface of the cheek and gums. The white patches are attached to the underlying tissue and cannot be removed. Leukoplakia affects people with compromised immune system such as those suffering from HIV/AIDS. It is also effects people who, chew tobacco and are heavy smokers.
Another cause of white tongue and bad breath is oral candidiasis. This is a yeast infection which features with white spots or patches that resemble white velvety flecks and they typically cover the dorsal side of the tongue. In case the patches are removed the underlying tissues bleed. Apart from its unpleasant appearance oral candidiasis is in most cases accompanied by burning sensation. The condition generally affects people with weakened immune system, those who have been taking too much antibiotics, smokers and patients during chemotherapy or radiation therapy of the head and neck.
In people suffering from geographical tongue the dorsal side of the tongue is covered with irregular patches which may be white in color. This very condition features with discoloration of certain parts of the tongue (some taste buds) and it may also lead to cracks in the tongue.
Apart from the previously mentioned, other causes of white tongue and bad breath and they include oral lichen planus, severe dehydration, alcohol abuse, excessive smoking etc.
What to do About White Tongue and Bad Breath?
The very treatment depends on the underlying cause of white tongue and bad breath. Oral candidiasis is generally treated with anti fungal medications and boosting one's immune system may prevent recurrence of the infection. Additional prevention is achieved by abstaining from alcohol and tobacco.
The person is supposed to report any visual change in the tongue since some of the changes may be an introduction to a tongue cancer and the most efficient treatment is if they are removed prior the tumor has fully developed.