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Black hairy tongue – Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Written by Dr.Mary

What is Black hairy tongue?

This is a harmless, temporary, oral condition which gives the tongue a furry, dark appearance. The diverse look of this condition is caused from bacteria overgrowth in the mouth.


Even though this problem can look very alarming, it does not develop any problems with health. It is normally resolved with no medical treatment.

Black hairy tongue Symptoms

Symptoms and signs of this condition include:

  • Yellow, brown or black tongue discoloration
  • A furry or hairy look on the tongue
  • Metallic or other altered taste in the mouth
  • Halitosis or bad breath
  • Sensation of gagging n some people

Although very unappealing, “black, hairy tongue” is normally only a temporary and harmless condition.

Black hairy tongue Causes

The condition is normally the results of protuberances on the tongue known as papillae which grow longer – elongate – and can not shed normally. This can make the tongue appear hairy. Bacteria, debris as well as other organisms normally collect on the papillae and results in the yellow, brow or black discoloration.

  • Causes of this condition is not always able to be determined but, potential causes can include:
  • Oral hygiene is poor
  • Changes in normal yeast or bacteria content in the mouth after the use of antibiotic
  • Mouth breathing
  • Medications which contain bismuth, for instance Pepto-Bismol
  • Using regularly mouthwashes which contain agents which oxidize like peroxide, or astringent means for instance menthol or witch hazel
  • Tobacco use which is heavy

If, despite regularly brushing your tongue and teeth at least twice a daily, this continue persists, you should see your primary care physician or dentist. Consider making a listing of question to ask your dentist or doctor. Some questions for discussion include:

  • Give an example of what is most likely causing these symptoms?
  • And what is a good course of action?
  • Is there anything that should be restricted?
  • If I wait will the symptoms go away?
  • Do I need a follow-up?

Your dentist or doctor will question you about symptoms as well as dental care. They might ask:

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  • Exactly when did the symptoms first start?
  • Do you find the condition bothering you?
  • Are the symptoms continuous or occasional?
  • How often to you brush teeth or dentures?
  • Do you use mouthwash and if so what kind?
  • How often do you floss?
  • How much tea or coffee do you drink?
  • Do you smoke or use other tobacco products?
  • Do you mouth breathe?
  • What drugs do you take?

Black hairy tongue Treatment

This condition does not need medical treatment. It is unattractive and it is fleeting and not detrimental problem.

Practice good oral hygiene as well as eliminate factors that could contribute to this problem – for instance medications that have bismuth or tobacco use – as these can help resolve this condition. But you should speak to your physician or dentist prior to stopping any prescription medications.

There are measures that you can do at home and they include:

Brush after drinking or eating

Brush at least 2Xs a day or especially after every meal if possible – using toothpaste with fluoride. If unable to brush after eating, at least rinse with drinking water.

Floss as a minimum 1X a day

Flossing eliminates food bits as well as any plaque from between the teeth.

Brush the tongue

This removes dead cells, food debris as well as bacteria.

Black Hairy Tongue Pictures

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