About black tongue

What is black tongue?

Hairy tongue is an uncommon, benign condition that is also known as hairy tongue or lingua nigra. It is characterized by abnormal elongation and ish or dark brownish discoloration or "staining" of the thread-like elevations (filiform papillae) that cover most of the tongue's surface (dorsum linguae). Such changes often begin at the back (posterior) region of the top of the tongue and extend toward the front (anterior) of the tongue's surface but never involve the undersurface.

The specific underlying cause of hairy tongue is unknown. However, possible predisposing factors may include poor oral hygiene and overgrowth of pigment-producing bacteria or fungi in the mouth, treatment with certain antibiotic medications, smoking, chewing tobacco, and/or mouthwash use.

What are the symptoms for black tongue?

A discolored tongue that is black symptom was found in the black tongue condition

Though unattractive, hairy tongue is usually a temporary, harmless condition.

See your doctor if:

  • You're concerned about the appearance of your tongue
  • Black hairy tongue persists despite brushing your teeth and tongue twice daily

What are the causes for black tongue?

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 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 tea
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Eating a soft diet that doesn't help to rub dead skin cells from your tongue

What are the treatments for black tongue?

Black hairy tongue typically doesn't require medical treatment. Though unattractive, it's a temporary, harmless condition.

Practicing good oral hygiene and eliminating factors that may contribute to the condition — such as avoiding tobacco use or irritating mouthwashes — help resolve hairy tongue. Be sure to talk to your doctor or dentist before stopping a prescribed medication.

What are the risk factors for black tongue?

Aicardi syndrome most often appears in females as well as in boys with Klinefelter’s syndrome, a condition in which a male has an extra X chromosome. For these reasons, researchers believe the disorder is caused by a defect on the X chromosome.

People normally have 46 chromosomes in each cell. Two of the 46 chromosomes are sex chromosomes, known as X and Y. They help determine whether someone will develop male or female sex characteristics. Females have two X chromosomes, while males usually have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome.

During the normal development of an embryo, there should only be one active X chromosome in each cell. This means that one of the two X chromosomes in a female embryo must randomly deactivate during cell formation. In the case of Aicardi syndrome, researchers think that the deactivation of the X chromosomes fails to alternate randomly. As a result, one X chromosome is active in more than half of the body’s cell formations. This is called “skewed X-inactivation.”

Researchers have yet to determine the exact gene that causes skewed X-inactivation, so the cause of the disorder is still not known. This lack of information also makes it difficult to determine the risk factors for Aicardi syndrome.

Is there a cure/medications for black tongue?

Black tongue, in most cases, resolves by regularly brushing your tongue with a toothbrush.


  • Your doctor may also prescribe a topical retinoid medication to help increase cell turnover on your tongue.
  • For stubborn elongated papillae, a doctor can remove them using carbon dioxide laser burning or electrodesiccation, which simultaneously cuts and seals the papillae.

Cure through lifestyle changes:

  • Brush your tongue. Using a soft toothbrush, gently brush your tongue
  • Use a tongue scraper. Using a tongue scraper (every time you brush your teeth will help keep skin cells from accumulating on your papillae.
  • Brush after eating. Brushing your teeth and tongue after every meal will help keep food debris and bacteria from getting trapped in the papillae.
  • Brush after drinking. Brushing shortly after drinking coffee, tea, and alcohol will help prevent staining.
  • Stop using tobacco products. Quitting smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Floss before bed. Flossing your teeth at least once per day will prevent food debris and plaque from building up in your mouth.
  • Schedule a cleaning scaling and deep cleaning in a dentist's office.
  • Drink plenty of water. This will help keep your mouth hydrated, which allows you to swallow dead skin cells.
  • Chew gum. Chewing sugar-free gum, or gum designed for people with a dry mouth, will help you produce more saliva to wash down dead skin cells.
  • Eat a balanced diet.

The primary symptom is that the tongue looks hairy due to the presence of long, thread-like growths,A discolored tongue that is , brown, gray, or yellow,A tongue that feels fuzzy or sticky,A bad taste in the mouth,Bad breath,Burning sensation,Gagging
Harmless and temporary oral condition where the tongue appears hairy with visible growths
Antibiotics,Antifungal treatment,Salicylic acid, retinoids, and B complex vitamins (only prescribed by a physician),Surgical treatment

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