our tongue not only enables you to talk, swallow and taste foods and drinks. It also convey the state of your oral and physical health. Therefore, any change in the appearance of your tongue should not be taken lightly. The tongue that appears pink with tiny nodules or papillae scattered across its surface usually indicates that you are in good health. When you stick out your tongue before the mirror and notice that it is coated with a white gunk, it is time to check your oral and physical health. White tongue, though usually considered a harmless condition, in some cases could be a symptom of a serious underlying oral or health problem.  When the papillae present on the surface of the tongue are enlarged or inflamed, the food debris, dead cells and bacteria gets trapped between the papillae. Accumulation of these substances on the surface of the tongue makes it appear white. Your tongue may appear white owing to various reasons.
Poor oral hygiene, dehydration, breathing through the mouth, dry mouth, fever, irritation from sharp denture, excessive alcohol intake, smoking, oral tobacco use and lower intake of fibrous foods are common causes of white tongue that can be easily overcome by improving oral hygiene and modifying dietary habits.  White coating or spots on the tongue can also indicate a serious oral problem that needs medical intervention. White patches on the surface of the tongue that have cottage cheese like consistency is a common symptom of yeast infection or oral thrush. Infants and older adults are vulnerable to yeast infection. Diabetics and people who wear dentures or use inhaled steroids are also susceptible to oral thrush. A weak immune system is incapable of fighting yeast overgrowth.
White tongue may also occur after long-term intake of antibiotic medication. Overgrowth of the tongue cells, known as leukoplakia, which occurs when the tongue is irritated, is another possible cause of white tongue. Consumption of tobacco products is a common cause of leukoplakia. Another cause of white tongue is oral lichen planus, which appears as raised white line on the tongue. It is a temporary condition that usually subsides naturally.  White tongue is sometimes associated with chronic diseases that suppress the immune system such as HIV infection or AIDs. It can also be a symptom of tongue or mouth cancer and syphilis. 
However, traditionally, a white-coated tongue indicates a highly toxic health condition. Checking the tongue is one of the oldest methods of diagnosing health problems. The tongue is at one end of a long tube that extends from the mouth to the anus. When excess toxic substances accumulate in the body, some of them are pushed up into the tongue. People who are sick tend to have heavily coated tongue, which is usually accompanied by unpleasant mouth odor. When an individual fasts or is on a strict fruit diet, the fasting process or the diet speeds up elimination of the toxic substances and the tongue becomes heavily coated. Gently scraping the surface of the tongue helps in removing the white coating. 
Natural Remedies For White Tongue
When white tongue is not associated with a serious underlying oral or health problem, it can be easily eliminated by practicing appropriate oral hygiene and with natural remedies. The debris and dead cells can be easily removed from the surface of the tongue by scraping the tongue with a tongue scraper or gently brushing it with a toothbrush. Dry mouth or dehydration that gives the tongue the white appearance can be addressed by increasing water intake. 
1. Baking Soda
To remove the white coating from the surface of your tongue, brush your tongue with baking soda. Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate works as a natural antibacterial agent. When used in oral health care preparations, it helps in reducing the bacterial load in the saliva and plaque.  Furthermore, it helps in increasing the pH of the saliva.  Because of these beneficial effects of baking soda on oral health, it is considered an effective remedy for white tongue. Mix baking soda with some water and scrape or brush the tongue with the paste. 
2. Oil Pulling
Regardless of the underlying cause of the white coated tongue, swishing coconut or sesame oil seems to help in restoring the natural appearance of the tongue. As you swish oil in the mouth, the toxins, metabolic wastes and plaque bind with the lipids in the oil. Oil pulling not only helps in drawing out the fat-soluble substances. As the swishing process creates water and oil emulsion, it also helps in removing the water-soluble substances.  Oil pulling is believed to be an effective remedy for white coated tongue associated with Candida overgrowth or oral thrush. Sesame oil and coconut oil, owing to their antifungal activities, are best suited for oil pulling.  Swish the oil, moving it between the teeth, for about twenty minutes. Spit out the oil. 
3. Oregano Oil
For better result with oil pulling, add one to two drops of oregano essential oil to the sesame or coconut oil. Oregano oil is a powerful anti-fungal essential oil. However, use oregano oil occasionally for oil pulling.  Alternatively, add few drops of oregano oil to half a teaspoon of olive oil and apply the diluted oil to the affected area. 
4. Yogurt And Probiotic
The whiteness of the tongue is frequently caused by overgrowth of yeasts. Susceptibility to fungal infection tends to increase by taking antibiotics. Antibiotics not only kill the harmful bacteria, they also destroy the good bacteria that live in the intestines and mouth. Destruction of the friendly bacteria in the mouth may lead to thrush. Yogurt is a natural source of these good bacteria. Eating yogurt helps in clearing the fungal infection and the white coating on the tongue.  The live cultures or the acidophilus bacteria in yogurt suppress multiplication of yeasts. It can also be given to older babies affected by thrush. 
Probiotic supplements are also known to help in fighting the yeast infection. To clean the white coating on the tongue you can also brush your tongue with probiotic powder twice a day, in the morning and night. Put some probiotic powder in a bowl. Dip a toothbrush in the powder and gently scrub the tongue. Spit out the probiotic powder and thoroughly rinse your mouth. 
5. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera helps in killing yeasts, bacteria, viruses and parasites. It helps in removing the dead cells and toxins. It supports growth of healthy cells and is known to fight inflammation and swelling.  Because of its beneficial properties, aloe vera is believed to be an effective remedy for fungal infection of the mouth that causes white cheese-like coating on the tongue. Take some food-grade aloe vera gel on your finger and apply it to the affected area two to three times a day.  Swishing aloe vera mouthwash in the mouth can also help in relieving the oral fungal infection. 
According to research, garlic paste, when applied topically to the affected area for fourteen days, helps in relieving the symptoms of oral candidiasis.  Garlic is regarded as a powerful antimicrobial and antifungal agent. Allicin, the major constituent of garlic helps in destroying the yeast Candida that causes the oral infection leading to the white deposits on the tongue. Chewing a clove of garlic daily also seems to help in fighting the fungal infection.  However, garlic oil, tincture and capsule are usually recommended by herbalists for better result. 
Herbalists believe that the thick white coated tongue accompanied by lung congestion is a result of cold and stagnant conditions that can be relieved by the hot and drying effects of thyme. Thyme helps in eliminating phlegm from the body.  Because of its antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, thyme helps in relieving oral thrush. To half a teaspoon of olive oil add few drops of thyme essential oil. Apply the diluted oil to the white patches on the tongue daily.  Using a mouthwash containing thyme can also help in relieving the symptoms of thrush. To a cup of boiling water add two teaspoons of thyme and one tablespoon of dried mint. Steep the herbs for about thirty minutes and then rinse your mouth with the herbal decoction.  Tea prepared by combining thyme and pot marigold can be used as a mouthwash. To the cool herbal tea add a drop of oregano or thyme oil. Use the mouthwash two to three times a day. 
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
When imbalance in the gut flora and dietary habits cause white coating on the tongue, in addition to cleaning the tongue and ingesting probiotic, rinsing the mouth with apple cider vinegar helps in improving the appearance of the tongue.  To make apple cider vinegar mouthwash, combine one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with half a glass of water.  The white coating on the tongue could also be a result of long-term digestion problems. Drinking apple cider vinegar between meals can help in improving digestion, thereby relieving the symptoms of digestive disorder. 
In the traditional Chinese medicine, a pale tongue with white moist coating is associated with cold conditions. In such as case, ginger is recommended as an effective remedy. Ginger is believed to work by warming the stomach region and reducing cold.  In Ayurveda, buildup of Ama, the foul-smelling sticky substance comprising of the undigested and unabsorbed food components, in the stomach is identified as the cause of white-coated tongue.  Accumulation of the digestive wastes can be inhibited by increasing the digestion power. Fresh or powdered ginger when ingested, by restoring healthy digestion, helps in improving the appearance of the tongue. Prepare ginger tea by boiling a pinch of ginger in water over low heat. To enhance appetite, drink the ginger tea before a meal. To boost digestion, drink it after a meal. 
10. Hydrogen Peroxide
Rinsing the mouth with hydrogen peroxide helps in removing the white coating from the surface of the tongue. It works by destroying the harmful anaerobic bacteria and cleaning away the dead organic matter from the mouth. To use hydrogen peroxide as mouthwash dilute half an ounce of 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide with eight ounces of water. 
When removable coating of bacteria and food debris makes the tongue appear white, cleaning the tongue helps in removing the white coating. In Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicine system, cleaning the tongue is an important component of oral care. After brushing the teeth, Ayurveda recommends cleaning the tongue with a scraper. Apart from removing the gunk, tongue cleaning helps in fighting bad breath, diminishes risk of bacteria infecting the teeth and gum and improves the taste of food. In addition, by incorporating tongue cleaning in your daily oral hygiene, a small amount of toothpaste is considered sufficient for cleaning the teeth. Using excess toothpaste tends to destroy the mouth and throat flora, which is harmful for health.
Traditionally a scraper made out of gold or silver or a twig is used for scraping the tongue.  However, nowadays, stainless steel scrapers are readily available. Brushing the tongue with a toothbrush is also known to remove the debris, but this cleansing process is not considered as effective as using a scraper. Scrape the tongue by gently pulling the scraper from the back of the tongue towards the tip. Rinse the scraper and again scrape your tongue. Repeat this scraping and rinsing process for up to thirty seconds.  Instead of a scraper, you can use a teaspoon to scrape off the white coating from the tongue. 
If the regular cleansing routine and the natural remedies fail to restore the healthy appearance of your tongue and the white coating persists for more than a few weeks, consult your physician or dentist. White tongue should not be ignored especially if it hurts or you are concerned about the change in the appearance of your tongue.