Normally the tongue is reddish or pinkish in color with a smooth texture and a velvety touch which is a sign of a healthy tongue. However the texture and color can change due to change of diet, medications, oral infections, or ulcers and sores. There is a universal agreement that a good oral health is the sign of a person’s general health. Any unusual change in the mouth signifies troubles with the oral health. That is why a green tongue can be seen as a symptom of a bad oral cavity.
A green tongue may be caused due to various reasons. Some of those can be as follows:
- Bad oral hygiene
- Oral thrush: One of the most common causes of experiencing a green tongue is oral thrush which is a fungal infection in the mouth and is a result of the disease called Candida albicans and affects people mostly with a weak immunity. People with ill-fitting prostheses or even dentures are also more vulnerable to it. In most cases, oral thrush usually affects the tongue’s dorsal surface. The infection may however occur in any part of the mouth. Patients may also experience additional symptoms such as bad breath, burning sensations in the mouth, and pain and discomfort after intake of spicy and hot food. Treatment of oral thrush associated with green tongue infection involves use of topical anti-fungal medications. Patients also need to make sure that they are properly hydrated and consume a well-balanced diet.
- Oral candidiasis is another reason. Here the color of tongue becomes white at first followed by a dry greenish tongue. The color might be scattered or could also cover the full tongue. However the layer of green tongue can be removed easily. After cleaning the tongue becomes raw, a bit sensitive and red it can also bleed.
- Sometimes when the upper respiratory tract gets infected because of a bad throat resulting in an extension.
- Excessive smoking, using too much mouthwash and certain toothpastes can also cause infection.
- Increased use of antibiotics, consuming colored candies, lollipops and chewing gums that have dyes in it can give a greenish color to the tongue. However these are not long term effects.
- Using drugs like marijuana especially of a bad quality.
- Some people who have tongue piercings can also cause such discoloration through infections that one might get because of brushing and eating. The infection caused is also called Candida fungus.
- The overall quality of the oral health matters the most in such cases. The tongue gets the most affected if one ignores maintaining a good oral hygiene.
- Any detrimental problem with the body’s gastronomical system is also responsible for a greenish tongue. The velvety appearance of the tongue is due to a tiny filiform papillae present on the surface of tongue and they keep shedding regularly. But in some individuals it might not be the case. Such abnormality causes elongated papillae that are more prone to vulnerable to any viral or bacterial infection causing the discoloration of the tongue. It is also known as hairy tongue and can also occur in case of excessive use of mouthwash, smoking or alcohol consumption.
There is not any actual hair growth on the tongue. Often microscopic examinations or a close observation of the tongue is done for a diagnosis by detecting the presence of elongated papillae strands.
Some of the main symptoms that can be seen during the formation of green tongue are mentioned as below:
- Bad breath and experiencing a metallic taste in the mouth. Such signs can be dealt with chewing natural mint, cardamom, fennel seeds or cinnamon.
- Lack of comfort while eating too much spicy or hot food.
- Gastro intestinal infection.
- Feeling of nausea or vomiting.
- Loss of appetite because of abnormality in the taste buds.
- Swelling and redness in gums and tongue.
- Difficulty in swallowing saliva and chewing food.
- Increasing sensitivity in the tongue.
- Dryness in the tongue with a hard layer on the lower back of the tongue. The layer can be cleaned but might take time due to the sensitive nature of the tongue.
The treatment of Green Tongue depends on the causes and overall oral health. However some common treatments are:
- Home remedies such applying a smooth paste of turmeric and honey. The anti bacterial properties of turmeric and honey are quite effective in treating oral thrush.
- Mint or clove can be chewed to treat bad breath. The diet should also be taken care of. One must avoid strong tasting food and spicy things. The diet should also be rich in fibers.
- An overall good oral hygiene, avoiding tobacco and alcohol would also be helpful.
- There should be more consumption of foods rich in vitamin C such as citrus fruits to increase the immunity of oral health.