Home Disorders Mouth & Dental Disorders Black Hairy Tongue causes, symptoms and treatments

Black Hairy Tongue causes, symptoms and treatments

The name black hairy tongue itself is very scary. But don’t worry, it is a harmless condition. Even then, you do not want to have such a problem. This medical condition is caused by fungi or bacteria present in the mouth. When it happens, your tongue will become black and hairy. The good news is that you can get rid of black hairy tongue problem with some simple oral hygiene techniques.

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Causes of black hairy tongue

What causes black hairy tongue? This medical condition appears when too much yeast or bacteria growth happens in your mouth. The buildup of bacteria happens in the form of some tiny rounded projections, which are known as papillae. They appear on the surface of the tongue. Normally they shed after some time. But in this case, they start growing. They increase in length and result in some hair like projections. In case of black hairy tongue, they can grow to 15 times their general length.

The color of the papillae is pinkish white. When they grow, the color changes. The changes in color happen due to addition of food, drinks, bacteria, yeast etc. in the papillae. Generally the color becomes black, but it may also be yellow, brown, green or other colors.

Due to some specific lifestyle habits and condition in which you live in, black hairy tongue may develop. Such habits and conditions include

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Drinking too much coffee or tea
  • Suffering from dehydration
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Using chemical medicines containing the chemical known as bismuth
  • Using antibiotics. Using some antibiotics can imbalance the existing balance of bacteria in the mouth.
  • Using mouthwash containing peroxide, menthol and witch hazel.
  • Undergoing radiation therapy to the neck or head
  • Lack of saliva in the mouth

The problem seems to be more common in the case of men, especially people suffering from HIV positive and using intravenous drugs.

The symptoms of black hairy tongue

Except the black look of your tongue, black hairy tongue does not cause any other problems in your life. You also do not see any other symptoms or suffer from any type of discomfort. In case of excessive growth of Candida albicans, however you may suffer from a burning sensation on your tongue. This condition is known as glossopyrosis. Some other people may suffer from a tickling feeling. Such a feeling is generally experienced in the roof of the mouth. Some other people may experience a metallic taste in the mouth. In case of severe problems, the patients may experience a gagging feeling. Bad breath is another problem which occurs if food gets caught in the extra long papillae.

Treatment of black hairy tongue

Treatment of black hairy tongue is easy and it is possible to get rid of the problem completely. The best way to treat black hairy tongue is to maintain a good oral hygiene. You need to brush your teeth twice daily using a soft toothbrush. While brushing your teeth, also brush the tongue. This is also a good idea to use a scrapper to thoroughly clean the town. You can keep your mouth clean by drinking lots of water throughout the day.

If you are a smoker, it’s a good idea to stop smoking. Doctors may also advise you to include more roughage in your diet.

If the problem is not solved, then you should call your doctor. Your dentist may take a look at the problem and find out the best course of action to be taken. The doctor may also prescribe antibiotics or antifungal medicines for cleaning up the bacteria or yeast formation. There are different topical medicines like tretinoin (Retin-A) are available for treatment of the problem.
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