Why is my Tongue Green? Major Causes

A healthy tongue will have a bright pink color and a smooth texture. A green tongue can be a sign of several serious medical conditions. In this article, you’ll learn about why your tongue is green.

Why is my Tongue Green?

It is common to have a green tongue after eating or drinking something containing green food coloring, but an unexplained color change can indicate an underlying problem.

A green tongue is often caused by an infection or an overgrowth of certain germs, but there are other causes as well. Symptoms of a green tongue usually go away after the underlying condition is treated.

This article discusses the conditions that cause a green tongue in detail.

What are the Causes of Green Tongue?

A green tongue can have many different causes. Often, a green tongue starts off as a white tongue, but changes to green with time after eating, drinking, or taking certain medications.

Below are some common causes of a green tongue:

1. Oral Thrush

In some cases, a buildup of germs or poor oral hygiene may lead to a Candida infection.

Candida albicans is a naturally-occurring yeast that is usually balanced by other bacteria. Oral thrush occurs when this yeast grows uncontrolled in the mouth and on the tongue.

Oral thrush usually gives the tongue a whitish or off-white appearance, but that may change to green over time, depending on how the infection develops. Oral thrush also causes:

‣ bumps or changes in texture on the tongue or tonsils

‣ pain in the mouth

‣ difficulty or pain while swallowing

‣ bleeding from the bumps if scraped by food, teeth, or a toothbrush

Oral thrush commonly occurs in infants who are breastfeeding. It can cause a similarly discolored tongue, as well as symptoms including irritability and difficulty feeding.


2. Leukoplakia

Leukoplakia causes a white patch in the mouth or on the tongue, which may become green or discolored over time. Leukoplakia is often linked to alcohol or tobacco use.

Leukoplakia is typically painless and harmless. Doctors will still want to monitor it regularly as leukoplakia may turn cancerous in some cases.

3. Hairy Tongue

A hairy tongue is a harmless condition that causes the tongue’s texture and appearance to change. It occurs because of a buildup of keratin cells, which are the proteins that also make up human hair.

This buildup can give the tongue a rough, hairy texture.

This rough surface also provides an excellent area for bacteria and fungi to multiply, which could also cause a green tongue.

Hairy tongue is more common in older people than other people, though it can occur at any age. A hairy tongue may cause other symptoms, including:

‣ an odd taste on the tongue

‣ a tickling or gagging sensation that may get worse when swallowing

‣ bad breath

difficulty tasting food or changes in the taste buds

Factors that contribute to hair tongue include poor oral hygiene, and the use of certain medications, such as antibiotics, tobacco, and caffeine.

4. Geographic Tongue

Geographic tongue is a harmless condition that causes irregular blotches to appear on the tongue.

These blotches often appear as a dark red spot with a raised white border at first, but they may change color over time.

These lesions may also change shape or location over time and can disappear and reappear often.

Geographic tongue may cause other symptoms, such as a burning sensation in the mouth or discomfort while eating, especially when eating spicy or acidic foods.

The tongue may also become very sensitive to chemicals in oral products and tobacco smoke.

5. Lichen Planus

Lichen planus is a disorder of the immune system that can cause a rash and discoloration of the tongue.

The tongue typically turns whitish but may develop a green tint if bacteria or fungi start to grow. Some oral products, foods, and beverages may also be responsible for the color change.

Lichen planus may also cause white lesions in the mouth, which can change color depending on what foods a person has eaten and whether bacteria start to multiply. These lesions may be painful and often cause a burning sensation in the mouth.

6. Syphilis

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can be sexually transmitted or passed on from a mother to child during pregnancy.

If a person contracts syphilis from oral sex, they may develop a sore on the tongue that may change color over time. If left untreated, multiple sores may appear in the mouth. Doctors usually prescribe penicillin to treat syphilis.

7. Oral Cancer

Although it is much rarer than an oral infection, oral cancer may also cause similar symptoms. One sign of oral cancer is an open sore or lesion on the tongue that does not heal.

This sore may change color depending on the oral products a person uses and the foods and beverages they consume, or if bacteria start to collect.

Oral cancer often causes other symptoms as well, including:

‣ a growth or uneven area on the tongue

‣ persistent tongue pain

‣ bleeding on the tongue or gums with no known cause

‣ loose teeth

‣ unexplained weight loss

‣ colored patches on the tongue that may be green, white, or pinkish

‣ numbness or tingling sensation in the lips, chin, or neck

‣ a persistent sore throat or jaw pain


If the green tongue is not caused by food, it is usually caused by an overgrowth of harmful germs, bacteria, or yeast in your mouth. It is critical to seek medical attention whether the cause is yeast overgrowth or another type of infection. We believe the above content was useful, kindly share it on all platforms.

CSN Team.

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