Black tongue

black tongue

What are the causes for a black tongue?

A black tongue can result from a number of different causes. No matter the cause better hygiene can improve the condition, that means using a tongue scraper daily.

The main cause of a black tongue is a susceptible person who is not cleaning their tongue.

Susceptible individuals include those with dry mouth and smokers. If someone has a dry mouth and or smokes their tongue may turn black if they do not clean their tongue.

Another common cause can be a reaction with a medication.

There are many medications that can cause a black tongue. Many medications dry out the mouth and can cause it indirectly. Other medications are more direct; like Pepto Bismol, or any other substance containing bismuth subsalicylate. The bismuth reacts with sulfur, which is produced from bacteria, and makes the harmless black substance bismuth sulfide.

Iron supplements are another source of possible cause for a dark tongue.

Image of a black tongue.
You can see the black substance can be wiped off but not all of it.

Bacterial causes

Chromogenic bacteria cause black staining of teeth and tissue and can be to blame for a black tongue.

How do you eliminate the black color on your tongue?

You can get rid of the black tongue with just a little extra effort each day. If you know the cause you may be able to stop it by eliminating the cause. However, stopping smoking is about the only realistic thing that you can do and quitting is not easy. The other causes you likely just need to deal with the consequences.

So to eliminate the dark color of your tongue you need to clean the tongue twice daily. This is not difficult and should only take a few seconds each time. Get yourself a nice tongue scraper that you like and use that. If you want to do even more there are tongue brushes that you can add some sort of antimicrobial to. We recommend adding a little hydrogen peroxide to the tongue brush and using that on your tongue. It will quickly kill a lot of the bacteria on your tongue and will help eliminate your black tongue. Again only a few seconds is needed to clean your tongue.

Another method that may or may not help is eating fresh pineapple or papaya. They contain the enzyme bromelain that may help.

A black hairy tongue is same issue just more extreme.

A black hairy tongue has the same causes and we treat the same way. This study has a nice list of causes and treatments to use. Tongues with an overgrowth of the filiform papilla get this more often because they are more difficult to clean and pick up stains more easily. This is a variant of normal anatomy but does result in more staining.

A black hairy tongue has many causes.