Talking about your tongue coating might not be a popular topic of conversation in polite company, but it is a topic you should raise with your dentist. That coating is key to oral health as saliva helps wash away food particles and germs that could cause gingivitis and cavities, as well as initiating the digestive process by starting the breakdown of food. Saliva is great – that is, until you notice that you have too much or too little. Read on to learn what different amounts of coating on your tongue could mean for your overall health and wellness.
Too much coating may be a side effect of scarlet fever. According to the Indian Journal of Clinical Practice, this bacterial infection may cause a pasty white coating. Additionally, white patches on the tongue that you cannot scrape off may be a sign of leukoplakia, which is a precancerous tongue lesion. In this case, visit your dentist immediately.
Oral thrush is a yeast infection of the mouth that may result in white patches on the tongue that are thick enough to be scraped off. Diabetics and cancer and HIV patients are more susceptible to thrush than the general population. Again, if you have a thick tongue coating or patches, visit your dentist.
Dry mouth? Your body might not be producing enough tongue coating to promote a healthy mouth. Dry mouth may be a result of dehydration, since your body can't spare the water to create a healthy amount of tongue coating. Obviously, a swig of water is your best bet to restore balance, but if dry mouth is a chronic problem, reconsider your lifestyle choices. Smoking and drinking alcohol can dry the mouth, according to the Mayo Clinic. Work on quitting smoking, and if you imbibe, alternate alcoholic drinks with a bottle of water to make sure your good time doesn't result in dry mouth.
You should always have some saliva in your mouth. The right amount is a thin, light coating that gives your tongue a healthy sheen. The coating should be clear or slightly whitish.
Don't knock your tongue's coating. As long as it's adequate, it can do a lot to help keep your entire mouth functioning well. Consider brushing with a toothbrush like the Colgate 360° Advanced 4 Zone, which features an innovative cheek and tongue cleaner design.