Why is my Tongue Green?

The normal color of the tongue is reddish pink. A healthy tongue is almost smooth and a little velvety. However the color and texture changes depending on the overall health of a person, especially the oral health such as in infections the tongue can turn coarse and rough at times with tongue sores. The general health of a person is related to the oral cavity to an extent. Problems with oral health indicate other underlying problems. A green tongue is definitely abnormal and indicates a major problem with not just the oral health but also internal overall health.

As a green tongue may be caused due to multiple reasons it is very important to consider the symptoms and to diagnose the underlying cause of green tongue be able to treat it properly.

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Green Tongue – Causes

Some of the common causes of green tongue are as follows –

  1. Oral Candidiasis

Oral Candidiasis or oral thrush is a common cause of a green tongue. It is a type of fungal infection in the mouth mainly caused by Candida albicans. An opportunistic infection, it mainly impacts people with a weak immune system and can also be found in individuals with ill-fitted dentures. Often in such cases the color of tongue changes to white and after the intake of antibiotics or food can become green. The green colored layer can be easily removed from the tongue but at the same time can make it bleed and sensitive. The oral thrush mainly impacts the dorsal surface of the tongue but can also occur in any other part of the mouth. Other symptoms like a bad breath, inflammation in the mouth, especially more pain and discomfort while eating of spicy and hot food can also be experienced. The treatment mainly includes use of topical anti-fungal medications, proper hydration and a well-balanced diet.

  1. Hairy Tongue Syndrome

This condition isn’t literally what it sounds like! There isn’t actual growth of hair on the tongue. In this condition the papillae continues to grow without the cells falling away which makes them look like hairy structures growing on the tongue’s dorsal area. These strands can further get attacked by the bacteria causing contamination and adds on to the symptoms of a green tongue which can further change to black. Microscopic examination is often carried out to diagnose such a condition as it needs a close investigation of the tongue. Bad breath and a metallic taste in the mouth are some other symptoms. The precise cause of hairy tongue syndrome isn’t well known but its usually associated with excessive smoking, excessive use of mouthwash, and a badly maintained dental hygiene.

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green tongue picture


Some other causes

  1. The extension of an infection in the upper respiratory tract because of a sore throat.
  2. Infections in the tongue, gums, smoking and excessive use of mouthwash or even toothpaste. Some of them have dyes or artificial colors that might give a green color to the tongue.
  3. Prolonged use of antibiotics.
  4. Eating food such as candy, lollipops with green dyes. The green color in this case is however temporary and harmless.
  5. Taking illegal drugs and excessive use of marijuana.
  6. In rare cases people with piercing in the tongue can also develop a green tongue if the piercing is infected. It is also a hindrance in maintaining a proper oral hygiene and can potentially make a person vulnerable to secondary infection such as candida fungus further causing a green tongue.
  7. Gastro-intestinal disorders such as nausea and vomiting are also associated with the condition.
  8. Greasy foods, fatty foods and too much sugar intake is also another possible reason.
  9. A greenish tongue also indicates an increased bile quotient, therefore it is better to avoid hot, spicy foods and one should drink plenty of water. Irregularity in meal timings should also be taken care of. Constipation, dehydration and lack of sleep are also other associated reasons.


Green Tongue can easily be taken care of with some simple and effective measures such as:

  1. Applying a paste of turmeric and honey which is considered extremely beneficial. The turmeric and raw honey are composed of strong anti bacterial properties and can also cure a lot of other oral health disorders such as oral thrush.
  2. Using a mint clove for masking the bad breath is another simple trick. You can also chew mint leaves but in moderation.
  3. It is also important to have a healthy diet rich in dietary fibers. Fibers contribute a lot in improving the gastric motility and also cleansing the colon.
  4. Excessive smoking, intake of too much marijuana, illegal drugs and alcohol should be controlled. A good oral hygiene is a must.
  5. Foods rich in Vitamin C such as citrus fruits should be taken to increase the overall immunity and prevent oral thrush.
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