What Is Black Hairy Tongue? – Know About Everything

One of the most important muscular organs of our body is tongue. It is responsible to perform various operations. Whatever we eat, tongue provides us the taste and we recognize whether the thing is bitter, sour, salty or sweet. It manipulates food for mastication and plays a crucial role in the digestive system. One of its major function includes enabling of speech in humans and vocalization among other animals.

But what if it gets black? It looks something strange but the black hairy tongue is a temporary condition which is developed due to an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth of a person. Various forms of bacteria bring together on the papillae (tiny projections which cover the tongue) and originate red blood cell pigments, that sometimes results in displaying the tongue black. They start developing along the surface of the tongue and start to grow and lengthen. After this process, they create hair-like projections that can grow to 15 times their length.

Papillae are cone-shaped, expanded protrusions that are responsible for embracing of food on the tongue’s surface. They can develop to about 1 millimeter in length before shedding from the tongue and eventually allowing the new ones to grow.

Different types of hairy tongue take place when these papillae do not shed properly and build up of keratin takes place, that is a silk protein. When it happens, yeast, bacteria or food can acquire in the over-keratinized papillae network and cause discoloration in the tongue.


  • Poor oral hygiene can be one of the top causes for odd discoloration in the tongue. It can cause the formation of yeast or bacteria. That is why it is mandatory to take care of your oral hygiene.
  • Consumption of tobacco or excessive use of alcohol can create such problems. If someone is addicted towards tea or coffee and drink them in an over-limit, chances of hairy tongue may occur.
  • Even oral hygiene products like different types of mouthwashes which contain peroxide, menthol or witch hazel can play a role in changing the colour of tongue if used regularly.
  • A dry mouth, like when it is not producing saliva can also make a person more prone to have a hairy tongue.
  • It is more common to the male class, especially who takes intravenous drugs or those who are HIV positive.

Black Hairy Tongue Symptoms

Different signs and symptoms of black hairy tongue contains a furry or hairy appearance of the tongue, metallic or altered taste in mouth, halitosis or bad breath, burning sensation, black discoloration of a tongue, and tickling or gagging sensation if the overgrowth of the papillae seems to be too much.

Black Hair Tongue Treatment

There are different ways to remove the odd discoloration from a person’s mouth. Out of them, some have been listed below.

Practicing good oral hygiene is considered as one of the effective ways to treat the black tongue. Out of which the most common yet effective treatment is to gently brush both tongue and teeth twice a day. You can still continue this process for long as it will be helpful in preventing the black hairy tongue to appear again. Even one can apply tongue scraper for cleaning the affected area.

Try to drink plenty of water throughout the day in order to keep your mouth moist and clean. It will be helpful to remove the dryness which is considered as one of the causes to uplift black hairy tongue.
If someone has a habit of smoking or consumption of things like alcohol or tobacco in a large amount, it is better to quit this option and leading towards healthier living.

Soft diets aren’t responsible to clean the tongue with an effective touch. That is why it is advised to add more roughage to your diet. Try to maintain a well-balanced and nutritious diet which concludes a good balance of vegetables, grains, fruits, and minimum sugar to promote oral health.


You can fight with the problem of a black hairy tongue with the help of some precautions given above. Still, if there seems a problem, you can consult a dentist for better guidance and result.

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