Black hairy tongue happens as a result of bacterial overgrowth inside the mouth. People with this condition often find it scary due to its dark and furry appearance, but it is totally harmless. A lot of factors can trigger its occurrence, but it usually settles on its own even without medical intervention. Individuals affected by this temporary condition experience bad breath, dry mouth and metallic taste in the mouth in addition to tongue discoloration.
The treatment for black hairy tongue helps sufferers by addressing the symptoms that come with it. The management of the condition is not as complicated as it only involves practicing good oral hygiene and addressing the factors that cause it. However, there may be cases that call for a dental check up when the condition has gone on for more than a week.
Causes of black hairy tongue
Black hairy tongue occurs as a result of the overabundance of bacteria on the surface of the tongue. A large number of small projections known as papillae can be found on the tongue surface. Normally, there is some shedding of these papillae. When shedding does not occur, the papillae will continue to grow and become elongated. Food debris can easily get trapped in the overgrowth which makes the tongue more favorable for bacterial growth. Several factors can make this happen and these are:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Breathing through the mouth
- Heavy smoking or tobacco use
- Drinking too much coffee or tea
- Imbalance of bacteria inside the mouth due to certain antibiotics
- Medications that contain bismuth
- Use of mouthwash that contains oxidizing agents
How prevalent is black hairy tongue?
Black hairy tongue is more widespread in males than females, affecting around 57% of young adults and 8.3% of children. A higher incidence of this condition is also noted among HIV patients and those using intravenous drugs. A dental check up might be needed if the condition has become bothersome or has lasted for more than 10 days.
How to treat and prevent black hairy tongue
Effective treatment for black hairy tongue is available, and this depends on what is causing the condition. The finest preventive measure is to follow good oral hygiene through regular tooth brushing, flossing and dental check up.
Black hairy tongue pictures