What’s that fuzzy stuff on your tongue?

What's that fuzzy stuff on your tongue ?

We’re answering your real questions about oral health. First up:

“What’s that fuzzy stuff on your tongue (like, when you wake up in the morning and it’s kinda gross), and how does one get rid of it?”

That “fuzzy stuff” is a combination of bacteria, food debris, and dead cells that are trapped between all the tiny bumps on your tongue. The bumps are called papilla, and they have extra nerve endings to help you distinguish between hot and cold, and taste food.  A coated tongue in the morning isn’t usually a sign of anything serious. It’s usually only temporary and there’s an easy solution! You can use an inexpensive tongue scraper like this one or this one to help remove the film as part of your morning routine. Just open your mouth wide so you don’t hit your teeth with the scraper, stick your tongue out and, starting from the back, pull the scraper forward along your entire tongue between five and ten times. In a pinch, you can just use the side of a metal spoon or just brush your tongue. The ancient technique of tongue scraping is a great addition to your oral care at home and can help reduce the level of bacteria in your mouth.  One study found that tongue scraping reduced the levels of mutant streptococci and lactobacilli in adult patients and another study found that it improved taste sensation after just two weeks. It’s also super-satisfying to see how much of that fuzzy gunk you can remove from the surface of your tongue.

There are some instances you’d want to visit us for, and it’s possible that a coated tongue could indicate an infection or a more serious condition. There are some common conditions that create a white coating, including Leukoplakia, Oral lichen planus, Syphilis, and Oral thrush. It’s a good idea to call us if you’re concerned about changes to the appearance of your tongue, your tongue hurts, or your coated tongue persists for longer than two weeks.


This post should NOT be used as a substitute for the advice of an appropriately licensed health care provider. Information provided here is for informational purposes only. Although we attempt to provide accurate and up-to-date information, no guarantee is made to that effect. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. This site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis or treatment.

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