Why Has My Tongue Turned Black?

Understandably, looking in the mirror to discover your tongue has turned black can be unsettling. However, it’s usually not a sign of anything serious and often, a black tongue in Oshawa will resolve itself without treatment.

How Can a Tongue Turn Black?

Your tongue is covered with lots of little bumps called papillae, which help you taste food properly. Usually, the skin cells on these papillae will shed naturally and are replaced with fresh skin cells. Sometimes, the skin cells aren’t shed properly, so they build up, trapping a protein called keratin. As the skin cells build up, the papillae become larger, and the bumps begin to elongate, giving the tongue an almost hairy appearance. Unfortunately, these growths can easily trap bacteria and food debris, resulting in the tongue discolouring and becoming black. It’s also possible for a tongue to develop other colours, like beige, green or brown, depending on the bacteria trapped in the larger papillae. Other signs of a black tongue include a nasty taste or bad breath, and the elongated papillae can cause irritation or even make it feel like you are gagging.

What Causes Black Tongue?

Antibiotics can cause this condition as these disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in your mouth. It can also be due to other medicines like oral steroids. Some mouthwashes containing peroxide can increase the risk of developing a black tongue in Whitby.

If you fail to brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss once a day, there is a greater risk of bacteria accumulating over the surface of your tongue. The risk is higher if you have xerostomia or dry mouth, as a lack of saliva helps bacteria thrive and means there is less saliva to wash away these bacteria. Certain medical conditions increase the risk of black tongue, including diabetes or conditions that affect the immune system. It tends to be more common in people who are undergoing radiation therapy. If you have a low-fibre diet, the skin cells on your tongue’s surface are less likely to be exfoliated as you chew food, increasing the risk of bacterial growth.

How Is Black Tongue Treated?

You can treat a black tongue in several ways, for example, by increasing dietary fibre. If you think the condition is due to certain medications, talk to your GP in case they can prescribe an alternative. It’s also well worth ensuring your oral care routine is the best possible, making sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time and that you floss thoroughly. You can use your toothbrush to gently brush the surface of your tongue to help remove dead skin cells, or you can purchase a tongue scraper for this task. If you have a dry mouth in Ajax, drink plenty of water to help keep your mouth moist. You could try increasing saliva flow by chewing sugar-free gum or using an over-the-counter saliva substitute.

If your black tongue persists, make an appointment to see us at Margolian Dentistry. We can gently examine your mouth, help determine the reason for your black tongue, and suggest suitable treatment to help resolve this issue. We can help ensure you have an excellent oral care routine and may suggest different tools or toothpaste to use. Dry mouth can increase the risk of oral diseases like tooth decay and gum disease, so if you have this condition, we can work with you to protect your oral health and ensure your tongue is restored to a healthy pink colour.

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