How to treat a white tongue

Updated February 21, 2017

If you have noticed that your breath is unpleasant, you may want to check out the appearance of your tongue. If there is a white coating on your tongue's surface, you probably have found the reason for your bad breath: a build-up of bacteria. Another reason you may have a white tongue is oral thrush due to the presence of yeast in the mouth. In some instances, you can treat your white tongue at home, or you may need to consult with a medical professional.

Bacterial build-up

Inspect the surface of your tongue. If you see lesions that appear white, thick and have the consistency of cottage cheese or appear white and creamy, you likely have thrush and not a bacterial build-up (see Resources). If you have a white coating that colours your tongue, continue with Steps 2 to 4 to remove the bacterial coating.

Place a tongue scraper flat against the surface of your tongue at the back of your mouth. Pull the scraper forward over the surface of the tongue to remove bacteria. Repeat two to three times.

Apply a pea-sized quantity of toothpaste to the head of your tongue scraper. Place the scraper flat against the surface of your tongue at the back of your mouth. Distribute the toothpaste over your tongue by pulling the scraper forward over your tongue's surface.

Allow the coating of toothpaste to remain on your tongue while you brush your teeth thoroughly. Rinse. Repeat these steps as part of your daily hygiene routine.


Practice good dental hygiene as part of your normal routine by brushing your teeth and tongue at least two times daily.

Eat two to three 235 g (1 cup) servings of plain, unsweetened yoghurt with live and active cultures per day for a week. Use the yoghurt in place of sour cream if you don't want to eat it plain.

Consult with your physician about a prescription medication if the lesions do not disappear from your tongue. He can prescribe a mouthwash or pill to treat the thrush.


Consult with your doctor or dentist if your tongue does not respond to scraping or eating yoghurt. Avoid tobacco and limit certain foods if you have a white tongue. Tobacco and certain foods can cause irritation to the mouth and tongue and may even be the source of your problem.

Things You'll Need

  • Tongue scraper
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Running water
  • Plain, unsweetened yoghurt with live and active cultures
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About the Author

Based in Texas, Cynthia Measom has been writing various parenting, business and finance and education articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on websites such as The Bump and Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.