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Yellow tongue: Causes and Treatments

Aug 21, 2023Oral health, Oral Hygiene

What is a Yellow tongue?

The occurrence of yellow tongue is commonly a benign sign due to the accumulation of bacteria. Lifestyle practices or hidden health conditions may also lead to the development of yellow tongue. In some isolated cases, yellow tongue accompanies jaundice, characterized by the yellowing of both skin and eyes. The occurrence of a yellow tongue may indicate an impending case of black hairy tongue. In the event that lifestyle changes and oral care fails to alleviate the issue, it is advisable to seek medical assistance from a healthcare provider. This is particularly important when accompanied by additional symptoms that give rise to concern.


Causes of Yellow Tongue

The occurrence of a yellow tongue is caused by the build-up of bacteria on the surface of the tongue. This condition can arise due to certain habits that include:

  • Low oral hygiene: Inadequate maintenance of oral hygiene, such as irregular brushing and flossing, can lead to the accumulation of bacteria in the oral cavity, resulting in a yellow tongue. Employing the use of a tongue scraper can also prove beneficial in preventing the occurrence of yellow tongue.
  • Drinking coffee, alcohol, or heavy teas: According to recent research, the consumption of coffee, strong black tea, and alcohol has been linked to an elevated risk of developing hairy tongue, a condition characterized by bacterial-induced color changes in the tongue.
  • Smoking: The likelihood of alterations in tongue pigmentation may escalate due to frequent and excessive consumption of tobacco products.
  • Drug use: Yellow tongue can be induced by certain medications as well.

Yellow tongue can also be a result of underlying health conditions. Some specific health problems that may contribute to yellow tongue are:

  • COVID-19: The body’s bacterial composition and salivary production capacity can be affected by illnesses such as COVID-19 and the remedies used to alleviate them, resulting in a yellowing of the tongue.
  • Diabetes: The occurrence of a yellow tongue can be attributed to various forms of diabetes as the oral bacteria thrive on sugar.
  • Pancreatic cancer: The pancreas is responsible for the secretion of digestive juices and hormones that regulate blood sugar levels in the body. Malfunctions or abnormalities concerning this organ can lead to the occurrence of jaundice, a medical condition characterized by yellowing of the skin appearance.
  • Jaundice: There are a few uncommon instances where jaundice might result in a yellow tongue. This yellowing of the tongue can be a sign of liver damage, pancreas problems, infections, blood disorders, or other medical concerns.


Treating the underlying causes of a yellow tongue

To remedy a discolored tongue caused by staining, it is recommended to brush with a concoction comprising of one part hydrogen peroxide and five parts water daily. Subsequently, rinse your mouth thoroughly multiple times with water.

In the event that an underlying condition is causing your yellow tongue, it is imperative to receive appropriate medical intervention to alleviate any associated symptoms.

To treat jaundice

  • In the event that jaundice is caused by an infection like hepatitis, your medical practitioner may prescribe medication for its treatment.
  • In the event that jaundice is caused by a blood disorder such as sickle cell anemia or blood transfusions, chelation medications, which function to bind iron may be incorporated into your treatment regimen.
  • It is advisable to limit or minimize your consumption of alcohol as it can safeguard your liver from the risk of further harm.
  • In cases of advanced liver disease, a liver transplant can pose as a potential solution.

To treat black hairy tongue

  • Maintain oral hygiene and brush your teeth a minimum of two times daily, preferably after each meal.
  • Perform mouth rinsing with water multiple times during the day.
  • Refrain from smoking.

To improve your oral hygiene

  • Brushing their teeth with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste twice a day for optimal oral hygiene.
  • Floss at least once per day.
  • Include fluoride-based mouthwash in your daily oral hygiene routine.
  • Schedule a dental examination and cleaning with your dentist every six months.
  • Restraint when it comes to consumption of sweets, particularly those that tend to stick and adhere to teeth such as toffee and gummies.

To treat dry mouth

  • Your healthcare provider has the ability to prescribe medication or suggest the application of a unique oral rinse with the intention of augmenting the volume of saliva in your mouth.
  • In the event of experiencing dry mouth due to medication, it is advisable to consult with your physician regarding the possibility of modifying the dosage or transitioning to an alternate prescription.
  • Consume water or any other beverages without sugar regularly during the day.
  • Refrain from consuming caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol as they can exacerbate the dryness of one’s mouth.
  • Employ sugar-free chewing gum to encourage the production of saliva.
  • To alleviate the discomfort experienced by breathing through your mouth during sleep, it is advisable to integrate a humidifier in your bedroom.

To quit smoking

  • Consulting with your physician for expert guidance on how to effectively quit.
  • It is possible to experiment with various nicotine replacement therapies such as patches, lozenges, gums or nasal sprays to alleviate the urge of smoking. These products are designed to curb your desire for cigarettes.
  • In order to mitigate the effects of nicotine withdrawal, pharmaceutical options like varenicline (Chantix) or bupropion (Zyban) can be prescribed by a medical professional.
  • If you encounter any challenges while quitting, you can seek assistance through telephone helplines, group therapy sessions, or individual counseling. These resources can effectively aid in managing the various issues that may arise from the quitting process.

To treat yellow tongue caused by medications or mouthwashes

  • Consult with your physician regarding the possibility of modifying or discontinuing your prescription medication.
  • Cease consumption of nonprescription medications and mouthwashes, or alternatively, attempt substituting with an alternate product.

To eliminate dietary factors

  • Generally, the normal color of your tongue can be restored by rinsing your mouth.
  • Refrain from consuming food items that have the tendency to cause temporary staining, such as tea and coffee, in order to prevent any discoloration.

To treat other health conditions

  • Seek the advice and care of a qualified healthcare provider in order to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.
  • The treatment options for diabetes may include a combination of medications and modifications to one’s lifestyle, as suggested by a medical professional.
  • The course of treatment for gastritis is contingent on the root cause, though commonly involves taking prescribed medication.
  • The course of treatment for autoimmune conditions exhibits a wide range of diversity.

Contact Our Redlands Dental Office!!

We invite you to visit our Redlands dental clinic. Our skilled professionals provide high-quality care and services. We are excited to meet you and help with all of your dental needs!

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