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Black, hairy tongue

Black, hairy tongue

This is a short-term, harmless and painless oral condition that usually gives one's tongue a dark, furry appearance. The distinctive look of black, hairy tongue results from an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast in the mouth. The hairy tongue may look terrifying but it doesn't cause any health problems.

 

What are the symptoms of black, hairy tongue?

 

• Hairy or furry appearance of the tongue
• Bad breath
• Yellow, black or brown discoloration of the tongue
• Altered or metallic taste in the mouth

 

What really causes black, hairy tongue?

 

This usually results when projections on the tongue called papillae elongate and don't shed like they normally do, which makes the tongue look hairy. Bacteria, debris or any other organisms tend to collect on the papillae resulting in yellow, brown or black discoloration.

 

However other causes include:

 

• Poor oral hygiene
• Heavy tobacco use
• Breathing through the mouth
• Frequent use of mouthwashes containing oxidizing agents such as peroxide or even astringent agents such as menthol or witch hazel
• Being dehydrated
• Taking medications that contain chemical bismuth
• Using antibiotics which may disrupt the balance of bacteria in the mouth

Prevention

Here are some things to consider which can help you be free from tongue discoloration:

• Brush your tongue whenever you brush your teeth to remove the dead cells, bacteria and food debris. Use a soft tooth brush or a tongue cleaner.
• Rinse your mouth after every meal.
• Floss at least once a day to remove the food particles and plaque between your teeth.
• Visit your dentist regularly.

Although the condition is only temporary and harmless, contact your doctor if you're concerned about the appearance of your tongue and your signs and symptoms last for more than ten days.