White Coated Tongue

What Causes White Tongue Coating?

White tongue coating can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'very minor' to 'serious'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose white tongue coating, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "white tongue coating" as a symptom.  Here are five possibilities:
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Poor Digestion
  • Tonsil Stones
  • Mercury Toxicity
  • Candida / Yeast

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
mild upper-right pain after food
history of CFS diagnosis
low energy/stamina
craving but not eating wheat
unexplained missed periods
frequent mucus in stools
frequent colds/flus
metallic taste in mouth
allergy to chemicals
late puberty onset
being very easily irritated
undigested food in stools
... and more than 90 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of white tongue coating:
Cause Probability Status
Weakened Immune System 93% Confirm
Tonsil Stones 20% Unlikely
Candida / Yeast 3% Ruled out
Poor Digestion 3% Ruled out
Mercury Toxicity 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Mouth/Oral Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about white coated tongue:
Looking in the mirror, is your tongue covered by a white coating? A healthy tongue is smooth, moist, pink or pale red in color.
Possible responses:
→ No / the coating is another color / don't know
→ Yes, there is a slight white coating
→ Yes, there is a heavy white coating
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either coated tongue or heavily coated tongue, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Tonsil Stones

A white coated tongue can be due to an accumulation of volatile sulfur compounds on the back of the tongue and throat.  These compounds are created by anaerobic bacteria living under the surface of the tongue and are the same sulfur compounds that cause bad breath and the foul smell experienced when you break open a tonsil stone.

Weakened Immune System

White tongues can be found in people with weakened immune systems.

Yeast / Candida Infection

A white, coated tongue is a sign and symptom of what doctors call Oral Thrush.  Candidiasis of the mouth and throat, also known as a "thrush" or oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC), is a fungal infection that occurs when there is overgrowth of fungus called Candida.  Candida is normally found on skin or mucous membranes.  However, if the environment inside the mouth or throat becomes imbalanced, Candida can multiply.  People with white tongues may have painless, white patches in their mouths and throats, but wiping away the white patches will generally cause soreness.

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