Black hairy tongue is a generally harmless, mostly cosmetic, condition presenting the following symptoms ...
The "hairy" appearance is a result of a taller-than-normal forest of papillae on the surface of the tongue, which can grow to 15 times their normal length. The extra height comes from an accumulation of keratin (the chief protein found in hair and skin). In people suffering from a black hairy tongue not enough keratin is shed or maybe too much keratin is being produced at the surface of the tongue. Normally, the papillae are pinkish-white, but as they grow, pigments from food, drinks and possibly the bacteria or yeast themselves get caught in the papillae, dyeing the tongue most often black - but the tongue can also turn brown, yellow, green or a variety of other colors.
- the elderly
- those missing teeth and are on a soft diet as soft foods don't exfoliate the tongue as rough foods would naturally
- tobacco smokers and/or
- those undergoing chronic of extensive antibiotic treatment (overuse)
- poor oral hygiene
- radiation treatments to the head and neck
Patients with hairy tongue often may develop a secondary infection of candida.
- Pepto-Bismol, or other drugs that have bismuth as an ingredient, can cause a black discoloration or staining on your tongue for a few days. It is harmless and goes away a few days after you stop taking the medication.
- The tongue may also turn dark after eating or drinking certain things such as beetroot or red wine.
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