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How Do I Treat a Yellow Tongue?

Yellow tongue can be treated by brushing one's mouth with a mixture that is one part hydrogen peroxide and five parts water.
Smokers with yellow tongue should kick back on or quit the habit.
A yellow tongue.
A yellow tongue may be a symptom of liver or gallbladder disorder.
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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2014
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A yellow coating on the tongue is usually not considered cause for alarm, and a yellow tongue alone may not require a physician's attention. Self-treatment for yellow tongue typically involves carefully brushing the tongue with a soft-bristle toothbrush. A solution of five parts water mixed with one part hydrogen peroxide may be used to brush the tongue and rinse the mouth after brushing. Tobacco smoking should be minimized or avoided altogether, and an increase in dietary fiber can help. Drinking plenty of water can also help improve a yellow tongue coating, since bacteria are often more likely to thrive in a dry mouth.

Yellow tongue is not usually a serious medical symptom. Most of the time, a yellow tongue can be treated at home by brushing the tongue regularly with a hydrogen peroxide solution. Sometimes, a yellow tongue may be a symptom of liver or gallbladder disorder, in which case it may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as a yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin. A yellow tongue that persists despite self-treatment at home may also be cause for concern. Causes of tongue yellowing can include a generally innocuous proliferation of bacteria on the tongue, tobacco smoking, insufficient dietary fiber, or related conditions such as geographic tongue or black hairy tongue.

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The condition known as geographic tongue sometimes causes yellowing of the tongue's surface. Geographic tongue isn't usually a cause for concern. It typically causes lesions that eliminate the tongue's natural papillae in one or more areas. These lesions can appear to change location as they heal and re-appear. Though the condition may cause some discomfort, it is generally considered benign.

Black hairy tongue is another condition associated with tongue yellowing. Sometimes, the appearance of a yellow layer on the tongue is a preliminary stage of black hairy tongue. Black hairy tongue is also considered benign, and usually occurs when bacteria on the tongue proliferate.

Tobacco smoking and insufficient dietary fiber can also contribute to the formation of a yellow tongue coating. Tobacco smoke can stain the surface of the tongue, causing it to take on a yellow appearance. Dietary fiber is often responsible for scraping excess bacteria from the tongue, so insufficient consumption of dietary fiber can allow tongue bacteria to build up. These bacteria may produce waste products that give the tongue a thick yellow coating.

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kylee07drg
Post 7

My husband smoked for eight years, and he had a persistently yellow tongue. Once he found out that his health insurance rates were about to go up if he kept smoking, he decided to quit.

I didn't know if the yellow tongue would ever go away, but it did. This was just one of the many benefits to quitting smoking.

He started brushing his teeth with a whitening toothpaste, and after awhile, his teeth appeared less yellow, too. So, he was able to get all of the tobacco-related yellowing out of his mouth.

Perdido
Post 6

@shell4life - Yeah, it's awful! You can't brush it off, either.

All you can do is wait for it to fade. Mine usually only lasts a day when I take that medicine.

The yellow tongue phase is pretty short, too. It progresses to black rather quickly.

shell4life
Post 5

I got a really yellow tongue after using some anti-diarrhea medication. It contained bismuth, which is known for turning your tongue dark.

I usually took the liquid form, but I was at work, and all I had was the chewable form in my purse. I had never taken it before, and I was really grossed out by how my tongue looked after I took it.

It started out yellow, but it soon turned brown. Then, it got even darker and turned into black hairy tongue. I knew that the medication had caused it.

I didn't want to open my mouth for the rest of the day! I was afraid I would scare people.

cloudel
Post 4

@burcinc - I think that tea and coffee do have a lot to do with it. Every night before going to bed, I drink a cup of warm, spicy chai tea, and it instantly makes my tongue appear yellow.

This is weird, because the tea itself is dark brown. However, so is coffee, and it turns my tongue the same color.

Also, dark caffeinated sodas make my tongue turn temporarily yellow. This is nothing that a good tongue brushing can't cure, though.

literally45
Post 3

@MikeMason-- I understand what you mean and I do agree with you. Usually cleaning the mouth properly and regularly does the trick. But there are also some conditions that result in yellow tongue symptoms and require medication like the article mentioned. For example, if it's a bacterial or fungal infection, antibiotics or anti-fungal medications might actually be necessary.

I have had thrush on my tongue in the past which is a fungal infection. My tongue was yellow but the coating was also very thick and was there persistently. I could scrape it off while cleaning my tongue but it always returned. I actually had to take anti-fungal medication and use a special mouthwash that my doctor prescribed to get rid of it.

So I think if anyone sees yellow tongue symptoms on a regular basis, it's best to get checked out by a doctor.

stoneMason
Post 2

When I first saw yellow bumps on my tongue I thought that I had a serious problem. I went to the dentist and he said that it's normal and as long as I pay attention to oral hygiene, it's fine.

Our tongue actually has small bumps on it naturally and it's normal for an off-white sometimes yellow coating to appear on it sometimes. Since I didn't know this and never really paid attention to the texture and appearance of my tongue before, I thought it was something else.

Now I know better and I just clean my mouth really well. I use mouthwash daily, I think mouthwash does a great job with yellow and white tongue.

burcinc
Post 1

I get a yellow coating on my tongue sometimes in the mornings. I think it has to do with not eating or drinking during the night. It causes a yellow buildup on the tongue that goes away when I brush my tongue and rinse my mouth.

It might also be due to tea and coffee. I drink a lot of tea throughout the day and usually also have a cup of coffee in the mornings. I know the tea and coffee stain my teeth yellow, so I'm sure it can stain my tongue too. I've noticed that if I only brush my teeth once a day, I get yellow tongue more often. I don't get it much if I brush at least twice a day.

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