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Yellow tongue: causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Have you noticed that your tongue has yellow spots and discoloration? Depending on our habits and what we consume, specific changes may occur in the mouth that give way to the yellow language. Food, health, or hygiene problems are decisive factors in maintaining perfect oral health.

Why do I have a yellow tongue? It is a question that no one wants to ask; that is why in the following FastlyHealarticle, we want to offer you all the information and tools to know what can cause it and what ways you have to eliminate it. Keep reading yellow tongue: causes and treatment and find out.

Yellow hairy tongue: symptoms

Indeed, the most noticeable and we pay most attention to is the yellow color of the tongue. However, other symptoms are usually linked to this condition, and that can give us information about what causes the yellow tongue and if there are any underlying health problems. Thus, other symptoms related to the yellow language are:

  • Orange or yellow spots.
  • Thicker saliva.
  • Dry mouth
  • Sores or canker sores in the mouth.
  • Halitosis.
  • Sore throat.
  • Hairy tongue and rough to the touch.
  • Fever.

Yellow tongue: causes

We have already told you about the symptoms that can appear along with this oral disorder. However, many factors can influence its appearance. In general, when the tongue turns yellow, it is because the taste buds have become inflamed, which allows bacteria to adhere to its surface more efficiently and, as a consequence, this yellow coloration appears or even turns into a fuzzy appearance. Next, we will talk about the specific causes that can cause yellow tongue :


Smoking is one of the leading causes of the yellow tongue, as well as other discomforts and complications in the health of our mouth. When we smoke, the amount of saliva we remove is more minor, causing our mouth to dry out and, therefore, the bacteria in our mouth find the perfect medium to start reproducing.

Beyond this, the nicotine in tobacco itself can stain the papillae, teeth, and mouth, especially in cases of heavy smokers.

Poor oral hygiene

Poor oral hygiene, either by doing it incorrectly or not doing it, is another of the leading causes of the yellow tongue. In these cases, the hygienic deficit will cause bacteria to accumulate in our mouth and on the surface of our language, causing symptoms such as this change in color, halitosis, and possible oral problems.

Poor diet and dehydration

Some beverages and foods can cause a momentary yellow coloration, for example, candy, soft drinks, or jellies that contain colorants. However, there are other foods that, without coloring, can cause a change in the tongue that can be slight or lengthen over time:

  • Tea, chocolate, or coffee can change the color of the language; however, with proper hygiene, it will disappear.
  • Highly sugary foods can change the bacterial composition of our language and the appearance of fungi.
  • Not hydrating enough thickens saliva, dries out the mouth, and causes the formation of bacteria.

Colds and infections

Colds or upper respiratory infections like sinusitis can force us to breathe through the mouth rather than through the nose. This can cause dry mouth and even inflammation of the papillae, which increases the number of bacteria in the mouth, causing it to turn that characteristic yellow color.

Canker sores in the mouth

Before or after the appearance of the yellow tongue, it is possible to develop canker sores or sores in the mouth due to a proliferation of bacteria and inflammation of the taste buds. These sores can cause pain and other symptoms along with the color of the tongue, which is why they can be easily identified before visiting the doctor.

Oral candidiasis

Also, other problems in the mouth, such as oral candidiasis, are infections caused by the yeast fungus that can give color from whitish to very yellow. It usually occurs when there is a decrease in defenses, so it is an opportunistic infection that benefits from this situation of the body to increase.


Yellow tongue antibiotics are another major cause of the occurrence of this disorder. The fact is that antibiotics alter the composition of bacteria in our body, causing conditions such as candidiasis to appear. Other medicines can cause side effects such as dryness, poor salivation, or even inflammation. If you are taking medication and it causes you some products, you should discuss it with your doctor so that he can replace it, but never end your intake by your own decision.

Other diseases

Other underlying diseases can cause this condition to appear. It should be noted that not only will this symptom appear, but others will appear, which is why it is likely that you are already treating yourself for this disease. However, some of these pathologies that can cause yellow tongue are HIV or some liver diseases such as hepatitis or cirrhosis.

How to cure yellow tongue

After seeing the many possible causes of the appearance of this condition, we are going to see how to remove the yellow tongue. Logically, the treatment should be different depending on what has caused this disorder. In this sense, the diagnosis becomes very important, so we must visit the doctor to do the relevant tests that allow us to know the cause behind the yellow tongue.

If it is caused by an underlying disease, it will be due to attacking the root of the problem, that is, that disease. Anyway, whatever the origin, this treatment to remove the yellow tongue can be beneficial in alleviating its symptoms:

  • In the case of being a smoker, you must eliminate this harmful habit.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene, that is, brush your teeth after every meal and before going to sleep, use dental floss and mouthwash, and pay attention to your tongue.
  • Eliminate foods such as coffee or tea from your diet that can influence your language’s color.
  • Follow medical treatment, if necessary, for yeast infection, HIV, or liver problems.
  • Hydrate yourself properly, that is, drink about 2 liters a day.

Should you go to the doctor for a yellow tongue?

As we have explained before, it is essential to visit the doctor so that he can diagnose what is causing your yellow tongue when it does not respond to a specific logical reason, for example, eating a yellow candy. In these cases, the doctor should perform a culture with a saliva sample to observe if there are harmful organisms in your mouth.

If you test positive, it is probably oral candidiasis, fungus in the mouth, a condition that goes away with some ease with treatment, but if not, it can become chronic. We often wait long before visiting the doctor, making conditions worse and harder to treat. Going to the doctor on time can mean the difference between being cured immediately or going through months of treatment.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Yellow tongue: causes and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Teeth and mouth category .

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