Dental Problems

Black Hairy Tongue

black-hairy-tongue.jpg Refers to a condition where the surface of the tongue starts developing dark (black) color and hairy appearance. It is a temporary harmless condition. It usually occurs due to overgrowth of bacteria or yeast that disturbs the normal balance of bacteria in mouth.

Causes of Black Hairy Tongue

In some cases the cause of black hairy tongue can’t be determined. However, some probable causes include the following:

  • Changes in the normal bacteria or yeast content of the mouth
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Some medications such as antibiotics that upset the balance of oral bacteria
  • Daily use of mouthwashes that contains oxidizing agents such as peroxide and astringent agents such as menthol or witch hazel.
  • Smoking
  • Use of tobacco
  • Drinking excessive amounts tea or coffee
  • Some conditions such as systemic diabetes or other systemic conditions may cause black hairy tongue.

Symptoms of Black Hairy Tongue

  • A black color coating (of bacteria and debris) on the surface of the tongue
  • Bad breath

Diagnosis of Black Hairy Tongue

  • You can easily diagnose this condition as the appearance of your tongue changes from its normal color to black color. Even your dentist or doctor can easily diagnose this just by seeing your tongue.
  • Your dentist will ask you about your dental and medical history, recent antibiotic therapy, smoking and oral hygiene habits.

Prevention of Black Hairy Tongue

  • Practicing a good dental and oral hygiene is the key to prevent this condition.
  • Brush your tongue gently twice a day
  • Use diluted hydrogen peroxide for rinsing your mouth. Take 1 part peroxide to 5 parts water. Rinse your mouth with water afterward.
  • Smoking worsens this condition, so giving up smoking for sometime or permanently helps prevent it.


If the above care measures do not work, check up with your dentist or doctor.

Treatment of Black Hairy Tongue

  • The common treatment of black hairy tongue is following all the preventive measures mentioned above.
  • If the condition is caused due to antibiotics use, then it resolves naturally after the completion of antibiotic course.
  • In severe cases a dentist recommends using a tongue scraper twice a day or may prescribe something else.

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