Author: Lizzie Smith – blog last updated on Monday 10th July
A yellow tongue is usually a more severe form of white tongue. The deposit becomes increasingly thicker and, therefore, turns darker. This dirty layer on your tongue is a mix of saliva, food residues and bacteria, similar to dental plaque. When on your tongue, this mixture can’t harden into tartar. However, it does threaten your teeth and overall oral health.
What is a yellow tongue?
When you have yellow tongue, the balance of your oral flora is severely disturbed, and both the harmful bacteria and the yeast Candida albicans can proliferate. Both run their course on and in the tongue’s soft tissues, especially at the back.
Usually, a yellow tongue will give you bad breath and a bad taste in your mouth. This smelly breath is caused by the harmful anaerobic bacteria converting sugars into sulfur compounds, but the additional Candida infection makes the problem even more significant. The yeast naturally lives in most people’s mouths on a modest scale, but it becomes a stringy fungus when it increases
How do you get yellow tongue?
A healthy tongue is pink. However, due to various factors, deposits remain on the tongue and between the tongue papillae. This starts with a white tongue; if it’s not cleaned, the layer thickens, and you end up with a yellow tongue.
Here are some factors that promote the build-up of the deposit on your tongue:
- Poor oral hygiene. The worse you care for your teeth, the larger the harmful bacterial colony in your mouth becomes. And they don’t limit themselves to the familiar places in your mouth either, such as on the border of teeth and gums and in between your teeth and molars. They also thrive on and in the rough tongue tissue. As a result, the balance of the oral flora is increasingly disturbed, and a white tongue eventually becomes a yellow tongue.
- Aggressive ingredients in oral care products. As strange as it may sound, toothpaste and mouthwash ingredients can disrupt the oral cavity’s balance. It will only worsen if you try to remedy your white tongue with aggressive care products. This is because they disrupt the balance of your oral flora even further and usually negatively impact the acidity levels in your mouth.
- A rough tongue. The rougher your tongue is, the more deposits will stick to it. Not only on the tongue’s surface but especially in the tissue between the tongue’s papillae. The back of your tongue is often overlooked and has an even rougher texture.
- Lifestyle-related factors. Bad habits such as smoking, drinking a lot of alcohol, stress and unhealthy eating disrupt the natural balance in the oral cavity. These factors affect oral flora, so a white tongue can quickly change into a yellow tongue.
- Oral yeast infection. If the deposit on your tongue is no longer white but thick and yellow, the bacteria balance in your mouth is seriously disturbed. The ordinarily harmless yeast Candida albnicans then proliferates and turns into a fungus that draws threads on the tongue. If this happens, you should consult your doctor as the Candida infection can be quickly remedied with medication.
- Dry mouth complaints. Too little saliva always causes an increase of white or yellow deposits on the tongue. This is because the natural protection of your teeth and oral cavity is lost, so the mouth sours faster. Dry mouth complaints are often related to diseases and medication use, so even if you can’t remove the cause, paying attention to any dry mouth complaints is still a good idea.
- Diseases. A poor immune system or general health can also disrupt the oral flora, turning a white tongue into a yellow one. This can be temporary, such as when you have a cold or flu. However, if you’re suffering from a chronic illness, it’s still wise to adjust your oral hygiene regime to include cleaning the yellow tongue.
Why should you fix yellow tongue?
When you have white tongue, you should already take measures to tackle it. However, with a yellow tongue, it really is time to intervene. A yellow tongue has quite a few disadvantages. It looks unsavoury, but your breath will also start to smell because more harmful mouth bacteria are converting sugars and carbohydrates into sulfur gases. When a white tongue has turned yellow, you’ll often experience a bitter or metallic taste in your mouth. With a yellow tongue, you can’t taste things as well either, and an additional oral yeast infection can make this worse.
A yellow tongue is unhealthy. Not only will your teeth and social life suffer, but a yellow tongue will also not benefit your overall health. A thick yellow layer of tongue coating is even seen as a diagnostic tool for various diseases, especially cancer.
How do you get rid of yellow tongue?
In part, the measures you can take to get rid of a yellow tongue are the same as those for a white tongue:
1. Good basic oral hygiene
Ensure perfect daily oral hygiene and use safe, mouth-friendly toothpaste and mouthwash. Mouth-friendly products don’t affect the balance of the oral flora. Instead, they support it and also neutralise the acidity in the mouth.
JuliBrite Chewing Toothpaste and JuliBrite Mouthwash are mouth friendly. They effectively clean the teeth and care for the gums, but without disturbing the balance of the oral flora. They’re also great at neutralising the levels of acidity in the mouth.
Another option is toothpaste and mouthwash from RyttPro. Its effective formula is based on stabilised chlorine dioxide, zinc and cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC). These ingredients effectively fight the harmful bacteria in the mouth while respecting the oral flora.
2. Eat drink and live healthily
A yellow tongue indicates something is wrong, so a healthy, varied diet, sufficient exercise and relaxation are vital. Address bad habits like smoking and too much alcohol, as well as stress factors in your life, and drink plenty of water. These measures may not be the easiest, but your tongue, mouth and the rest of your body will thank you!
3. Address dry mouth complaints
Dry mouth complaints, for whatever reason, increase the risk of yellow deposits on the tongue. So, don’t use products that further dry out and acidify the oral mucosa. As well as the toothpaste and mouthwash mentioned in point 1, you can use Moist-R Refreshing Tongue Spray throughout the day. This moisturises the oral mucosa and stimulates the salivary glands to produce more.
4. Take extra care of your mouth when you have a cold, flu and allergies
When you have a cold, flu or allergy, it also affects the balance of the oral flora. When this happens, a white tongue can quickly turn into a yellow tongue. Take good care of your teeth and oral cavity, and extend your hygiene regime to your nose. The post-nasal drip is the natural drainage of excess nasal mucus to the pharynx. If your nasal mucosa is irritated by an infection or allergy, it contains more bacteria, which will also end up on your already yellow tongue.
With TonsilFresh Nasal Sinus drops, you can ensure no more harmful bacteria end up on your tongue along with the discharged nasal mucus.
5. Clean your tongue
Firstly, you should never clean your tongue with your toothbrush. Its bristles are not suited to the soft, rough texture of the tongue. Moreover, you’ll transfer the bacteria from your dirty yellow tongue to your teeth. Finally, the head of your toothbrush is too high to properly clean the back of your tongue without making you gag.
To remedy a white tongue, you can usually get away with using a tongue scraper or a special tongue brush. However, we recommend a more intensive approach when it comes to a yellow tongue. Use a tongue cleaner that contains both a tongue brush and a tongue scraper, along with a unique tongue cleaning product.
For example, JuliBrite’s effective tongue cleaner. With this, you can first brush your tongue with the accompanying JuliBrite Tongue Gel from the JuliBrite Tongue Clean Kit. The gel contains zinc lactate that disables the harmful bacteria between your tongue papillae, and the fine bristles reach deep between the papillae. Then with the other side, the tongue scraper, you can easily wipe the yellow deposits off your tongue.
RyttPro Gum & Tongue Foam is a similar package of an effective tongue cleaner with a scraper, brush side, and mouth-friendly foam. Its formula, a combination of sodium chlorite (stabilised chlorine dioxide), cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) and zinc acetate, kills harmful bacteria while respecting the rest of the oral flora.
If you have yellow tongue, it’s also advisable to sprinkle a few drops of Bergenfeld Tongue Serum on the back of your tongue after cleaning.
A white or yellow deposit on the tongue is usually caused by a disturbed bacterial balance. Fixing a yellow tongue can take a little longer than a white tongue. But if you follow the above tips, you should be able to remedy the situation within a few weeks.
If you have a stubborn yellow tongue, it can also signal there’s more to it. For example, an underlying disease, an infection or an immune disorder. A yellow tongue can also be associated with an oral yeast infection (Candida albicans), for which your doctor can prescribe medication.
If you can’t get rid of your yellow tongue despite trying all the proper measures, or if you’re also suffering from other symptoms, you should consult your doctor.
Health Line: 5 Reasons to Scrape Your Tongue and How to Do It
NHS: Sore or white tongue