Causes of Yellow Tongue

A yellow tongue is an abnormal discolouration of the tongue. It is usually a harmless and temporary case, which means you should not panic. However, bad breath and taste distortions are often associated with this condition.

Usual Causes

Poor oral hygiene. When a person has not practised good oral hygiene for quite some time, bacteria may build-up on the tongue’s upper surface, or papillae. These bacteria are responsible for the release of coloured yellow pigments. Moreover, accumulation of dead skin cells can also lead to tongue discolouration.

Dry mouth. When you do not have enough saliva in your mouth, bacteria and food particles are not eliminated properly. Dehydration and breathing through the mouth can both lead to a severe dry mouth.

Bismuth and other medications. People who take certain medications that contain bismuth, antibiotics, blood-thinning drugs, and others are prone to tongue discolouration.
Mouthwash containing chlorhexidine. If you are using mouthwash and you notice that your tongue changes colour, you may want to check the label first. Certain ingredients can stain the teeth and tongue.

Geographic tongue. This is an inflammatory disorder that is also common with children. It is a non-cancerous and non-contagious condition wherein the tongue appears to have map-like patches. These red patches usually appear with white borders, sometimes yellow.

Possible Health Indication

The colour of a person’s tongue is a possible health indicator. Discolouration can be an early symptom of a more serious disease or condition.

Black hairy tongue. If the tongue starts to become yellowish, it could be an early sign of a black hairy tongue condition. Bacteria build-up from poor oral hygiene is also the number one cause of this problem, and it looks much more unattractive than having a lightly discoloured tongue.

Excessive alcohol intake and use of tobacco are both contributing factors. Although the appearance is scary, the disorder is harmless and painless.

Jaundice. This condition happens when the body has a high level of bilirubin, often making the skin, tongue, and whites of the eyes yellowish. Having jaundice is a normal indication that something is wrong with the liver or bile duct.

Treatment for Yellow Tongue

Since tongue discolouration is not a serious condition, there are easy ways to treat it.

Start practising good oral hygiene. The best solution to this condition is to brush your teeth at least two times a day. Use a fluoride-containing toothpaste and do not forget to brush the tongue as well.

Floss daily to prevent bacteria build-up from leftover food particles. If necessary, use a tongue scraper to gently clean the tongue.

Use the right mouthwash. To be safe from teeth and tongue staining, ask your dentist if the ingredients in your favourite mouthwash are safe.

Quit smoking. If you smoke, quit now to help reduce bacteria that gets trapped in the mouth.

Watch your diet. Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water every day. Incorporate fibre into your system by eating fruits and vegetables.

When to See a Doctor

Yellow tongue normally goes away after following proper oral hygiene and dental care. However, when the condition gets worse and does not go away even after changing dental habits, observe your body well.

If the tongue hurts or you notice other unrelated body symptoms like fever, yellowing of the skin, or gum bleeding, it is always best to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis.

About Grand Dental

Grand Dental is a trusted dental care provider with a modern clinic in the heart of Lawson. We offer a wide range of dental services to people of all ages.

Schedule an appointment with our friendly dentist to learn more about oral health and dental treatments available.