Do you take time to examine the state of your tongue? What does a green tongue mean or why is it this color? The state of tongue health and physical appearance provide a number of useful tips about your general health. Sometimes you can have a green coating or a yellow-green one.
A normal and healthy tongue is expected to have a pink or reddish pink color. It should also have a light white coating that is slightly smooth but not rough in texture. Never should it have a green coating.
Symptoms to expect
Besides it turning green or pale green, are there other symptoms associated with this discoloration? Yes. Some of these signs will include the following and will be similar to oral infections.
a. Bad breath
Bad breath is likely to be a common sign or symptom. People who care little about their oral hygiene are victims of not only a frequent smelling mouth but also green-looking tongue.
b. Loss of appetite
Research has revealed that people who are suffering from gastrointestinal infections are more likely to experience a loss of appetite. This is attributed to acid reflux in individuals who have this problem. It may also result in swollen or abnormal taste buds.
This symptom is also linked to gastrointestinal infections but some patients may complain of having a metallic taste in the mouth. Many times, patients with nausea do vomit or show signs of vomiting.
d. Discomfort during meals
Another symptom is discomfort while eating esp. spicy or hot food. This problem could either be experienced as pain or soreness in the tongue.
e. Dryness in tongue
Dryness, particularly one with a hard layer on the lower back of the tongue could be an indication of xerostomia (dry mouth) but it should be noted that the foods that you take may be largely influential.
Some of these symptoms may be observed clearly in the morning or after waking up.
Meaning and causes the green color or coating
What causes this coating indicate? Anyone (toddlers, young children & adults) can get a greenish or dark green color especially on the back or dorsal lower part. There are several causes and factors that contribute this color, yellow-green, or pale green.
Let us look take a closer look at probable causes which includes infections, syndrome, et cetera.
1. Oral thrush – yeast infection
Oral thrush or candidiasis of mouth in a fungal infection caused by excessive growth of a species of Candida albicans. An overgrowth of this yeast infection is characterized by “white patches in the mouth, inner cheeks, throat, palate, and tongue, as well as soreness and mouth pain.” [medicinenet.com].
There is a possibility that a green coating to appears when you have oral thrush if you take antibiotic medicines or after you have eaten certain foods. It may turn to the various shade of this color including dark green. This coating can be removed easily through scrapping but bleeding may occur.
Oral thrush infections are very common in babies and infants but anyone is equally at risk of getting it. It also affects many older individuals and people whose immunity is weakened by cancer, diabetes, HIV and other STDs.
2. Green Tongue Marijuana, Cannabis or “weed”
Can marijuana turn cause this color change? Marijuana is a green or grey mixture of the dried hemp plant. There are observable characteristic indicators of chewing cannabis that can be quite useful in determining drivers who are driving under influence, DUI. Smoking weed has least of these green-looking tongue effects.
Apart from the odor of marijuana other physical or psychological signs include “marijuana debris in the mouth, the green coating on tongue, bloodshot eyes, body and eyelid tremors, relaxed inhibitions, incomplete thought process, and poor performance on the field sobriety tests.” [nhtsa.gov].
3. Colored green foods or with dyes
Another probable cause could be a result of some foods, sweets, desserts, candy that you are taking too often. Some of these foods have permitted dyes and food colors that will temporarily turn your tongue to this color. A good instance is when children have taken lollipops which have green dyes.
4. Prolonged use of antibiotics
If you use these drugs continuously for a long time or inappropriately, side effects may result even though antibiotics are used in treating oral infections. This is so because antibiotics kill certain bacteria that are beneficial to humans.
5. Piercing in tongue
Individuals whose these piercings are at risk of getting a greenish or greyish looking tongue if they do not practice sufficient oral cleaning or use mouthwash too often. Inadequate cleaning can lead to bacterial infections as well as infections like oral thrush which we have already discussed.
6. Vitamin Deficiency
Besides oral infections and antibiotic use, a deficiency of certain vitamins in the body may be replicated in the appearance of tongue color, texture, and general look. A “greenish, beefy-red appearance could indicate that your body doesn’t receive enough vitamin B.” [wowremedies.com].
Further studies show that green spots on a pale tongue show that there is inadequate hemoglobin in the blood. Additionally, it may indicate that you have anemia. Most people who get anemia lack sufficient iron in their blood.
7. When with sores
If you have mouth sores and take colored foods or foods with permitted green colors, dyes, etc. can trigger this color.
8. Hairy Green tongue syndrome – Could it be alcohol?
This is a term used to describe an “abnormal coating on the top (dorsal) surface of the tongue” [aaom.com]. The exact cause of hairy tongue syndrome is not well known but it occurs due to lack of abrasion on the top surface. It is not a serious issue but is relatively common and can occur in anyone at any age.
In severe cases, yeast infections can be accelerated. Once this occurs, the tongue papillae became longer resulting in different colors, i.e. green, brown, black, white or pink. However, the appearance of hairy colorings depends on a specific kind of food (candy) or mouthwashes used.
According to Helpful Guides, this syndrome or is another common cause of a bumpy, rough green colored tongue.
In case you consume alcohol in huge amounts, dryness in the mouth and white coating are usually the effects but it can worsen the condition of mouth sores. You can also talk to your doctor if you realize that you get green tongue after drinking a lot of alcohol.
From our discussions, we can conclude that infections (yeast or candida), hairy tongue syndrome, chewing marijuana or smoking it excessively can make it develop a coating with various shades of color (i.e. yellow, pale green or darken). Thus, the resulting tongue color is greatly influenced by food, dyes, certain medicines such antibiotics.
When with a sore throat – Is it cancer?
Usually, a sore throat or strep throat is indicative of an infection in the mouth, oral tract or cavity. This means that when you have a green tongue and sore throat you have a cold infection, sinusitis (sinus infection), rhinitis and are most likely under influence of certain drugs.
Secondly, if you have these two conditions accompanied with symptoms such hoarseness in voice, difficulty in swallowing, sores on tongue, soreness in the throat, etc. and they persist for more after two weeks, go for a diagnosis of oral cancer.
Green tongue in infants or baby
If your baby has a green tongue it could be due to some of the factors some of which we have already seen. One of the most common infections in infants, babies or toddlers is oral thrush and cold infection. However, if your baby has a cold and has bad coughing, the green sputum from their throat can be mixed with bacteria. After coughing out sometimes this mixture makes it appear greenish in the morning.
Secondly, if they have oral thrush and are under antibiotic medication or syrups their tongues could also turn green. This is because oral thrush usually causes white patches on tongue.
Another probable cause in infants is due to the food or desserts they are given including candy, sweets, etc.
Pregnant women are encouraged to go for a diagnosis of oral thrush to prevent it recurring in babies during breastfeeding. Eating healthily should also be an essential and ideal part of women during pregnancy.
Yellow-green coating or stuff
A yellow-green tongue with a coating may be presented as “harmless buildup of dead skin cells on the tiny projections (papillae) on the surface of your tongue” [mayoclinic.org]. This may occur because some bacteria produce colored pigments and stuff which tints the papillae especially when they have enlarged.
Other causes may include some of the factors that we have discussed especially when the symptoms are temporary or last for a while. This phenomenon is usually clearly observable towards the end of the healing process or when the effects of symptoms are fading away.
Any diagnosis processes required to determine tongue problems are the similar procedures used to diagnose this problem. But first, you must make an appointment. Before carrying out any tests your doctor will ask you about the symptoms you have and for how long they have been present.
Your physician may request you to get your tongue out in order to make clinical observations. However, a biopsy may not be necessary.
Some doctors will want to have your blood test be done to rule out on symptoms that may be resembling those of other related health conditions or tongue diseases.
Treatment – get rid of a green tongue
How best can you treat a tongue with green coating? Unless you know the causes it is very important to go a careful examination to find out what sort of problems you have. The following are common treatments and remedy.
1. Treat the underlying causes
One of the effective ways to deal with this problem or get rid of a green looking tongue is to cure the immediate cause. If you know oral thrush is what leads to turning to turn to this color then go for diagnosis to get better treatment forms. The most common medical treatments include prescription antibiotics.
2. Green hairy tongue treatment
In most cases treating cases with mild symptoms can easily be achieved by good oral hygiene practices such as regular teeth brushing or using a tongue scraper.
If you have cases where the coating is persistent ensure that you have gone for testing in any of a professional health clinic before you attempt treatments. In fact, your doctor will recommend either strength prescribed medications or go for surgery to help you clear symptoms.
Try home remedies
Other methods of treating this condition including yellow and white coating involve a routine of proper cleaning and home remedies. There are many natural means of getting rid of tongue coats but here are two examples.
If you have a bad smell emanating from your mouth use this remedy. It can also be helpful in dealing with problems in tongue color i.e. greenish grey due to bacterial infections.
Turmeric is a natural cure for diseases caused by bacteria since it has powerful antiseptic properties. You can prepare a local paste by adding it a small amount of lemon juice. Use it to scrub your coated tongue.
Other remedies to get rid include swirling with baking soda solution, Aloe Vera juice, oil pulling, glycerin from vegetable extracts, and many others.
If you have this condition and cannot taste anything sweet, bitter, sour do not ignore. It could mean you have serious multiple infections or other oral conditions. Urgently visit your dental doctor for an oral examination, tongue testing or get diagnosed.