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White Stuff on Tongue

Updated on August 14, 2012
close up of the white stuff that can appear on our tongues
close up of the white stuff that can appear on our tongues

Why Do I Have a Discoloured Tongue?

Have you ever looked into your mirror, poked out your tongue and noticed that it doesn't look quite right? Very often this is a result of that horrible white stuff on your tongue which seems to appear for no logical reason. So, what causes the 'white stuff'? Well, it can be caused by a number of factors, some of which may be a result of a medical problem whilst others are easily eradicated with a little care and attention. The following are some possibilities which may help to explain what the white stuff on your tongue is.


Dehydration is one of the most common causes for this problem and is one of the most easily rectified simply by drinking more water, something which also benefits our overall health. This not only washes away any debris which may have accumulated on the tongue, causing this discolouration, but will ease the stickiness inside the mouth which allows this material, often in the form of bacteria, to accumulate.

Vitamin Deficiency

If you are lacking in Vitamin B12, this is likely to show itself in a discoloured tongue (along with confusion, lethargy and memory loss). This deficiency can occur for a number of reasons but most often occurs in vegans who avoid all animal products. It is easily rectified however by taking a daily B12 supplement in tablet form. As B vitamins are flushed through our system, this should be taken regularly as it will not be stored in our bodies.


Thrush is a common cause of the white coating on your tongue and is particularly prevalent in those whose immune system is low. This includes those suffering from HIV, cancer and other common ailments such as diabetes.

Tongue Scraping

Using a tongue scraper can help to remove some of the white stuff from your tongue and will certainly do no harm (unless you overdo it of course). However, this ignores the underlying symptoms so it is advisable to at least try to drink more water and take a B12 supplement initially, and if that fails, discuss it with a doctor.


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