How to Get Rid of Black Hairy Tongue

Learn how to get rid of black hairy tongue

Black hairy tongue can appear at any age, although it is more prevalent in older people and is more common in men than women. So, what are the causes of black hairy tongue and let's learn how to get rid of black hairy tongue.

Causes of black hairy tongue

Black hairy tongue is caused by an excess growth of yeast or bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria accumulate around the tiny papillae that grow on the surface of the tongue. The papillae usually shed regularly, but instead they begin to grow and become longer until they look like hair.

Papillae are normally pinkish-white in color, but as they grow longer, pigment from food and drink and from the bacteria themselves become trapped in the papillae, effectively dying the tongue. The usual color of the tongue is black, hence the name given to the condition, although it can also be yellow, green, brown and other colors too.

Lifestyle and its effect on black hairy tongue

How to get rid of black hairy tongue: There are some lifestyle habits that can predispose people to black hairy tongue. These include poor oral hygiene, smoking tobacco, and drinking too much coffee and tea. Using too much mouthwash that contains menthol, peroxide, or witch hazel can cause hairy tongue, as can taking Pepto-Bismol to treat an upset stomach.

Intravenous drug users and those with HIV are also prone to developing black hairy tongue.

Some types of antibiotics can affect the normal balance of oral bacteria, and being dehydrated so that not enough saliva is produced can also be responsible for black hairy tongue.

Symptoms of black hairy tongue

The primary symptom of black hairy tongue is the appearance of the tongue itself. Sometimes, an overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans (thrush) on the tongue can cause a burning sensation, which is referred to as glossopyrosis.

Sufferers sometimes complain of a tickling sensation at the back of the roof of the mouth, nausea, or a metallic taste in their mouth. When the condition becomes severe, sufferers may experience an unpleasant gagging sensation. When the papillae have grown extra-long, food may sometimes become caught inside the projections, eventually causing bad breath.

How can you get rid of black hairy tongue?

How to get rid of black hairy tongue: The most effective way of treating and preventing black hairy tongue is to practice good oral hygiene.

Use a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth twice a day and also brush your tongue. It’s also a good idea to use a specially designed tongue scraper that can be obtained from your dentist or pharmacy. Cleaning your tongue helps to remove any build-up of bacteria, and bits of clinging food. Daily tongue cleaning also encourages the papillae to shed naturally, which can help to prevent them growing too long. In addition to cleaning your teeth and tongue, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your mouth clean and to prevent bacteria from building up.

Preventing black hairy tongue

If you are a smoker, you should try to quit. The tar and other chemicals contained in tobacco smoke can be major contributing factors to the staining of the papillae and in encouraging bacterial growth on the tongue and in the mouth.

If you tend to eat a lot of soft foods, try to include more roughage in your daily diet. Foods that are abrasive are more effective at cleaning the surface of the tongue and encouraging the papillae to shed than squashy soft foods.

Treatment of black hairy tongue

If the problem doesn’t resolve itself, you should go to see your doctor or dentist. You may need antibiotics or an antifungal drug to shift the bacteria or yeast, which is at the root of the problem.

As a last resort, the papillae can be removed surgically with a laser or via electrosurgery.

You should now know how to get rid of black hairy tongue

Black hairy tongue is an unsightly condition that can be easily prevented by using good oral hygiene and making a few lifestyle changes if necessary. If the problem persists, always consult your doctor or dentist.

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Last Reviewed:
July 11, 2017
Last Updated:
September 19, 2017