What is the film that covers the tongue in the mornings, even after brushing the teeth and tongue the night before and why does it have color variations? Do the different colors mean anything?

  • $\begingroup$ You should see a dr. You could have thrush or something $\endgroup$
    – rhill45
    Apr 22, 2014 at 4:15

1 Answer 1


It isn't really a film. The tiny bumps that cover your tongue are called papillae, and are normally pink in color. However, they can become inflamed and white when irritated. The appearance of the white "coating" is caused by debris, bacteria and dead cells getting lodged between the papillae.

You may be breathing through your mouth when you sleep, which is drying it out. Bacteria may also still be the cause; you may not be brushing well enough or your toothpaste may not be correctly doing its job.

The color variations may be due to different types or amounts of debris, or the color may vary with different conditions listed here. Tongue color changes also often occur with glossitis (inflammation of the tongue itself).

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Great answer. To follow up and highlight one thing in the list given, another possible cause is a yeast fungus called Candida albicans. It's called "thrush" as buzrw mentioned. It's not very common in healthy people. It's a normal yeast in the human body that can overgrow if the immune system is suppressed (systemically like AIDS or locally by improperly administered long-term steroid inhalers), sometimes with overuse of antibiotics, and in some other conditions. It differs from other films by being unable to scrape off. And it's usually painful. $\endgroup$
    – DoctorWhom
    May 6, 2014 at 6:57

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