What Causes Black Tongue?

Why is my tongue black?

Black hairy tongue may be caused by growth of yeast or bacteria in your oral areas. The round tiny hair-like structures on your tongue are known as the papillae, they are usually white or pinkish in color. These structures can gather up bacteria or yeast which can grow larger and look like hairs on the tongue. They have been known to get 15 times larger than they, should be, giving the tongue a black appearance.

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The overgrown papillae is not usually painful, but some people complain of a burning feeling, which is usually only common in yeast infections. The black hairs on the tongue may tickle the roof of the mouth when you swallow. It can also cause mouth odor due to the accumulated bacteria.

Papillae can assume the colour of whatever colored food you take, though they range in white to pink in color. Consuming much sugary foods can encourage growth of yeast I the tongue. Coffee can make them appear brown, yeast can make them look yellow, but it often turns black. Some people can even have green tongues or some other strange color.

Causes of black tongue

Lifestyle choices or other health issues can also cause your tongue to appear black. These can include:

  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Improper brushing of teeth or mouth cleaning
  • Ingredients in mouthwash that contain peroxide, menthol, or witch hazel
  • Excessive intake of black tea or coffee
  • Certain antibiotics that cause yeast overgrowth in the body or mouth
  • Inadequate fluid intake and dehydration
  • Medications that contain Bismuth (pepto bismol)
  • Conditions that affect the salivary glands
  • HIV
  • Injected street drugs
  • Radiation treatments for neck cancer

READ ALSO: Possible Causes of Spots on the Tongue

Pepto Bismol and Black Tongue

Some medications for gastrointestinal conditions contain bismuth subsalicylate. It can turn the tongue black for hours after taking it. This ingredient is used in Pepto Bismol and other drugs for indigestion, heartburn, nausea, and diarrhea. It is also used in treatment for H. Pylori bacteria infections in the stomach. This drug must be taken with water and if you don’t use water the medication on your tongue will make it appear black. Many people report their tongue turning black for a number of days after taking this drug.

READ ALSO: Early Signs of Tongue Cancer

Remedies for black hairy tongue

Here are some easy tips to help get your tongue back to normal. These include:

  1. Better Oral Care

  • Practice better oral hygiene:Even if you brush your teeth and clean your mouth often, You need to brush your teeth and clean your mouth at least twice a day when you have a black tongue. Go for soft toothbrush and if possible, brush right after each meal. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride to aid destroy the bacteria.
  • Take special care of your tongue: A tongue scraper can help get your tongue properly clean. Cleaning your tongue can help remove any food particles and bacteria growth.
  • Use warm saltwater rinse. Take 1 cup of warm water (about 237 milliliters) and dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in it (about 2.5 milliliters). Swish and then spit out. You can do this twice daily.
  • Swish your mouth: Use lots of water to swish your mouth right after every meal or drink. Increase the amount of water you drink during the day.
  • Floss your teeth: Daily use of dental floss will help reduce the bacteria levels in your mouth.
  1. Healthy Diet and Lifestyle

  • Quit smoking: You have to quit smoking if you have a black tongue.
  • Increase fiber and roughage: Consume more foods that are high in fiber and roughage like salads and vegetables. These help to clean the tongue while you eat.
  • See your dentist on a regular basis: Most people don’t make appointments with their dentists until they are faced with a serious dental issue. You have to go for checkups. Your dentist can detect and treat any issue before it deteriorate.
  1. Medical Treatment

With the proper care listed above, black tongue should resolve in about a week. However, if it continues more than a week, you need to contact your physician or a dentist to address the problem. You may need treatment with a yeast medication or an antibiotic to kill any germs that may be causing the issue.


Photo source: Howstuffworks.com

Disclaimer: The content provided on healthdiary365.com is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.


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