Black Hairy Tongue


What is it?

It is ugly yet temporary and harmless

Black hairy tongue is happening because there is an overgrowth of bacteria and dead sluffing cells that build up on the tiny rounded projections on the tongue called papillae. Normally the papilla are pinkish -white.

Certain types of bacteria accumulate on your tongue, that stain the papillae and make the tongue look different colors most commonly black or brown. But I have seen yellow and green also.

If normal shedding of the cells on the tongue become inhibited, they grow and lengthen creating hair like projections which make the tongue appear hairy. They can grow up to 15 times their normal length.


Causes of Black Hairy Tongue

Black hairy tongue is caused by too much bacteria in the mouth, by a reduced saliva flow in your mouth or from things like smoking, food, drinking coffee and tea, yeast, mouth breathing, poor diet, illness, medications, chewing tobacco, use of alcohol and poor oral hygiene.

Certain conditions that disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in your mouth can make you more likely to develop Black Hairy tongue.

Here are a few:

Undergoing cancer treatments

Use of Antibiotics

Dry mouth

Being dehydrated


IV drug use

Black hairy tongue seems to be more common in men.


Symptoms of Black Hairy Tongue

Most people don’t even know they have Black hairy tongue unless they look at their tongue there are no symptoms or discomfort.

Some people report they have a metallic taste due to the presence of the thickening of the papillae

Others have reported a tickling feeling. If the papillae grow extra-long in severe cases may lead to bad breath or a gagging feeling.

There is a condition call Candida Albicans which is an overgrowth of yeast this can a burning sensation called glossopyrosis.

Treatment for black Hairy Tongue


Black Hairy tongue can be resolved simply by gently brushing your tongue twice a day as part of your daily dental routine.

Use a tongue scraper

Drink plenty of water

Maintain good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist.

Other than the appearance of the tongue most people don’t even know they have it.



Brush or swish with 1-part hydrogen peroxide and 5 parts water, then rinse with plain water.

Do not rinse with straight hydrogen peroxide or longer then 10 minutes some feel this will  cause rather than a cure black hairy tongue.

If you have essential oils, you can also add tea tree or peppermint oil to the mixture.

Avoid mouth rinses that contain alcohol or witch hazel

If it persists, see your dental professional

If the condition does not get better on its own with brushing and tongue scaping they can prescribe a medication or use the laser to remove the papillae.