Noticed Black ‘Hair’ On Your Tongue? Don’t Panic – Here’s Causes, Treatments and How to Avoid

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Perhaps, the condition called ‘black hairy tongue’ is rather a rare and you probably have never heard about it. So, Nexter.org explains what it is and why you shouldn’t panic. 

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Why my tongue is black?

Black hairy tongue isn’t hair at all. It is a temporary, harmless oral condition that gives the tongue a dark, furry appearance. The distinct look usually results from a buildup of dead skin cells on the many tiny projections (papillae) on the surface of the tongue that contain taste buds. These papillae, which are longer than normal, can easily trap and be stained by bacteria, yeast, tobacco, food or other substances.

black-hairy-tongue-photo

Although black hairy tongue may look alarming, typically it doesn’t cause any , and it’s usually painless. Black hairy tongue usually resolves by eliminating possible causes or contributing factors and practicing good oral hygiene.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of black hairy tongue include:

  • Black discoloration of the tongue, although the color may be brown, tan, green, yellow or white
  • A hairy or furry appearance of the tongue
  • Altered taste or metallic taste in your mouth
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Gagging or tickling sensation, if the overgrowth of the papillae is excessive.

Causes

black-hairy-tongue-photo

Source: Shutterstock

Unfortunately, there is no certain answer why this condition appears but it is thought to be caused by accumulation of epithelial squames and proliferation of chromogenic (i.e., color-producing) microorganisms.

Black hairy tongue typically results when projections on the tongue called papillae grow longer because they don’t shed dead skin cells like normal. This makes the tongue look hairy. Debris, bacteria or other organisms can collect on the papillae and result in discoloration.

Although the cause of black hairy tongue can’t always be determined, possible causes or contributing factors include:

  • Changes in the normal bacteria or yeast content of the mouth after antibiotic use
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Regular use of mouthwashes containing irritating oxidizing agents, such as peroxide
  • Tobacco use
  • Drinking excessive amounts of coffee or black tea
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Eating a soft diet that doesn’t help to rub dead skin cells from your tongue

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Noticed Black 'Hair' On Your Tongue? Don't Panic - Here's Causes, Treatments and How to Avoid
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Noticed Black 'Hair' On Your Tongue? Don't Panic - Here's Causes, Treatments and How to Avoid
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Perhaps, the condition called 'black hairy tongue' is rather a rare and you probably have never heard about it. So, Nexter.org explains what it is and why you shouldn't panic. 
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