Dr. Dean

Why Is My Tongue Orange?

Posting Date: 05/03/1999

Mark: Even though I haven't changed any habits, my tongue turns orange by the end of each day. I first noticed the color about a month ago.

I can brush the color off, and in the morning it really isn't there much. But by the evening, it's back.

Dr. Dean: Orange by the end of each day, huh? Well, first of all, let's eliminate an obvious thing, which may not be so obvious to some folks, staining from dyes in food or drink.

Coffee, lozenges, candy, mouthwash, and chewable vitamins and pills could all give an orange-ish color. I suspect this is the cause, especially, since you notice that your tongue is more orange by the end of the day than when you get up in the morning.

Cells grow rapidly on the tongue and give it certain sheens. Antibiotics, for instance, can cause a black tongue when they interact with a type of germ that creates a pigment that grows on the tongue.

This is something every medical student is supposed to know, but I have been amazed by the number of people saying they've been to a million doctors and got no answers about why their tongues are black.

In my experience, an orange color would be caused by something you're doing. We might be overlooking a habit of yours.

And it's possible that you haven't changed a thing and, yet, something that didn't have any effect in the past is now interacting with your body in a strange way.

I'd love to spy on you all day long and nail this thing, but I'll leave that up to you.