This four-part article series talks about the various ailments and conditions that can cause tongue problems, from unsightly discoloration to uncomfortable bumps and ridges.
Welcome to the third installment of our four-part article series on the various illness and conditions that can lead to tongue problems. In our previous two articles, we spoke to Sun City dentists about the possible causes of red or “strawberry” tongue and white tongue. Now, let’s move on to something that sounds particularly terrible and unpleasant… black hairy tongue.
What are the Causes of Black Hairy Tongue?
In spite of how awful it must sound to have your usually pink tongue turn into something that resembles a live tarantula, black hairy tongue isn't usually all that serious or dangerous, although it is linked with particularly nasty breath.
“Your tongue is covered with little bumps called papillae or taste buds,” Sun City dentist explains. “These continue to grow throughout the course of your lifetime, which is a good thing because your daily activities and eating cause them to become warn down. When this isn’t the case, they can be allowed to simply grow and grow, offering bacteria excellent shelter from your oral hygiene efforts. The accumulation of bacteria in and between taste buds that have grown particularly long can lead to the development of black hairy tongue. The “hairy” part comes from the appearance of long taste buds, which stand up out of a sea of blackish bacteria.”
Not very pleasant, is it?
The good news is that black hairy tongue is totally preventable, since it is linked with the accumulation of oral bacteria in a forest of abnormally long papillae, which, in any case, isn’t very common. It also tends to be restricted to people who aren’t good about keeping up a high standard of oral hygiene. Other risk factors include diabetes, chemotherapy and people who are taking antibiotic medication.
What you can do to Prevent Black Hairy Tongue
“The most common cause of black hairy tongue is bad oral hygiene,” says the cosmetic dentist in Arizona. “Therefore it stands to reason that upping your efforts at home will restore your tongue to its normally pink color. When you brush your teeth, make sure you include your tongue in this routine. This will discourage the growth of excessively long papillae and help to eliminate the colonies of bacteria that have taken up residence within them.
“You should also floss daily and even use an ADA-approved anti-bacterial mouth rinse. Even if you present with this condition as a result of the above-mentioned risk factors, an increase in your oral hygiene measures should help to prevent this symptom. Also, you should really seek the attention of a qualified Sun City dentist who will provide you with the appropriate diagnosis, treatment and home care advice. Black hairy tongue is wholly unpleasant and you’ll want to eliminate this condition as fast as possible.”
Stay Tuned for Part 4
To read more about the various conditions and illnesses that can affect your tongue, stay tuned for the final installment of this four-part article series! Next time, we’ll be looking at the problems that can cause a sore and/or bumpy tongue.