Black Hairy Tongue-Treatment, Causes,Symptoms

Black hairy tongue is a harmless, painless and temporary condition of the tongue that gives it a furry and dark appearance. In Latin, this is referred to as lingua villosa nigra which is the lengthening of the bumps of the outer surface of the tongue or the papillae. This is usually the result of the overgrowth of the bacteria within the mouth. The appearance may seem alarming at first glance but this does not cause any serious health problems and is usually solved without getting medical attention.

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The symptoms of black hairy tongue are noticeable in appearance which means that there are no painful symptoms that can be experienced by the body. Some of the signs and symptoms are:

• Halitosis or bad breath

• Metallic taste or change of taste within the mouth

• Brown, yellow or black discoloration of the outer surface of the tongue

• Gagging sensation

• Furry or hairy appearance on the surface of the tongue

Other than the mentioned signs and symptoms, there are a few discomforts reported by patients experiencing this condition. Some though, feel a burning sensation of the tongue due to the heightened growth of the Candida albicans. The burning sensation is also known as glossopyrosis. Some individuals complain about a tickling feeling at the back of the roof of the mouth and in some cases nausea is experienced. Halitosis, or bad breath, is caused by the food caught in between the extra-long papillae.

Causes of black hairy tongue

The main cause of such condition is due to too much yeast or bacterial growth within the mouth. The growth of bacteria occurs on the papillae which normally are short, rounded projections on the surface of the tongue. These are shed normally, but with this condition the papillae lengthen beyond normal which makes it look like hair growth on the tongue. The papillae can grow up to fifteen times the normal length.

The normal color of the papillae is pinkish-white but as they grow the pigments from the drinks and food are caught in the papillae which dyes the tongue with a different color. Oftentimes the color is black which is where its name is derived. There are some cases though that the tongue will turn green, yellow, brown or other hue variations. Some lifestyle conditions and habits of the individual contribute to the development of such condition. These include:

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• Undergoing radiation therapy on the neck and head

• Regular usage of mouthwash that contains menthol, witch hazel or peroxide

• Not enough saliva production

• Intake of medications that contain bismuth like Pepto-Bismol, a medication for upset stomach

• Dehydration

• Antibiotics – they disrupt the balance of the bacteria within the mouth

• Drinking a lot of tea or coffee

• Tobacco smoking

• Bad oral habits

Treatment for black hairy tongue

Black hairy tongue is a temporary condition which should not give serious health complications although it can be annoying since they give a different taste in the tongue, and more specifically, they are very unattractive. It is always best to keep a good oral hygiene since they can help prevent and get rid of the condition. You may also seek medical attention if you are very particular about the appearance of your tongue, or if the signs and symptoms persist for more than ten days.

Black Hairy Tongue Pictures

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