Why is my tongue black?

Often, we are told over and over we should be brushing our teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes, which is true! However, we should also be certain to be brushing the tongue as a part of our daily oral self care routine with a toothbrush. Normal appearance of a tongue can range from pink to red depending on physiologic pigmentation. If you have noticed that your tongue looks abnormally colored (black, purple or greenish) and “hairy,” this is directly related to species of bacteria or yeast, in addition to an overproduction of keratin on the top surface of the tongue. Brier Creek Family Dentist, Dr. Brett Wells explains that this is not as uncommon as many people think.

Frankly, this is not uncommon and according to The American Academy of Oral Medicine a “hairy tongue” is temporary, harmless and occurs in about 13% of the population. The hairy appearance occurs due to a lack of stimulation on the top of the tongue. Just like our teeth, with regular brushing we remove plaque and bacteria, well if we don’t actively remove particles from our tongue, the result is a build up of a protein known as “keratin.” The regular papillae on the tongue (filiform) give a “hairy-like” appearance when they are not shed properly.

If you believe that you may be experiencing “black hairy tongue” symptoms, it may be likely that there is bad breath associated or any burning sensation of the tongue. Although, you should know that it is possible to remove! In most circumstances, good oral hygiene can help to rid of any clinical appearance of a black hairy tongue. Brushing the tongue with a soft bristle brush to remove the particles can be helpful, or a “tongue scraper” can even be helpful! If you happen to have a persistent coating on the tongue and experience that brushing has not helped you should consult with a dentist immediately for further evaluation. Garner, NC family dentist Dr. Adam Moore has reported that the “Black hairy tongue” has been discussed quite often in mid 2022.

Contact River Run Dental Spa:

If you are experiencing a black or discolored hairy tongue that cannot seem to go away do not be alarmed, those of us at River Run Dental Spa are here for your needs! One of our excellent Richmond, VA doctors will provide an evaluation and recommendations on next steps in treating this harmless condition. We recommend that you please visit us here for new patients and existing patient forms.