What is black tongue and what causes it?

Black hairy tongue, also known as brown tongue is a discoloration of the tongue’s dorsal surface. Usually caused by a combination of bacterial and fungus, their growth and accumulation are the cause of this condition and can differ from one person to the next.

Although completely benign, its aspect can be a little disturbing. Any type of medication that disturb the natural balance of the oral flora have been know to cause this condition. Among these medications are anti-biotics and pepto bismal. Poor dieting, smoking, abusive alcohol drinking, and poor oral hygiene have also been known to cause this condition.

Symptoms of black hairy tongue:

- Bad breath

- Constant bad taste

- Furry looking tongue

- Dark discolorations

- Dry mouth

- Some may experience gagging

How does black / brown tongue cause bad breath?

Technically know as lingua villosa nigra, brown tongue can be defined as the accumulation of fungus and bacteria on the tongue’s oral area. Because of the papillae overgrowth, food residue, fungus, and bad breath causing bacteria tend to accumulate on the tongue’s surface giving it a dark furry appearance.

When left unclean, the stagnating residues, germs, and fungi release putrefying odors as well as gaseous wastes called volatile sulfur compound (VSC).

How do you treat black hairy tongue?

The best way to remedy this condition is by first identifying the disturbance of the oral flora. In most cases medication are responsible for the condition. Once identified, simply stop the treatment and the brown tongue should disappear within the next week or so.

If you’re using hydrogen peroxide mouthwash, stop immediately. HP has been known to cause black tongue on some people. Replace it with tea tree oil for your oral hygiene. It’s important to start scraping the tongue preferably with the Orabrush. You may also want to use a tongue gel (Tung, Breezecare) to neutralize odors until the condition recedes completely .

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