Black Hairy Tongue (BHT) sounds like a really scary disease, doesn’t it? It is actually quite harmless, but you will want to get rid of it. BHT is caused by fungi and bacteria in the mouth. As a result, the tongue looks as if it is black and hairy. Sticking to good oral hygiene will solve the problem.
Black Tongue Disease Causes
Black tongue is caused by an excess growth of yeast and other bacteria in the mouth. There are small projections on your tongue, known as papillae, and this is where these bacteria start to grow. Normally, papillae, found on the tongue’s surface, shed, but if they are blocked by fungi, the start to grow longer, which looks like hair. In fact, they can grow up to fifteen times their usual length.
Healthy papillae is a pinkish-white color. However, if they start to grow, then they also start to retain pigment from the food and drink you consume. Furthermore, yeast and bacteria also have colors. As a result, the papillae start to turn color, and they usually turn black, which is where the name comes from. However, it can be yellow, brown, green or any other color depending on your diet.
Lifestyle and Habits
You also need to look at your lifestyle and habits if you want to avoid black tongue symptoms. Some habits that can cause BHT include:
• Poor oral hygiene
• Use of antibiotics
• Coffee/tea consumption
• Medication with bismuth
• Being dehydrated
• Using hazel, peroxide or menthol mouthwash
• Insufficient saliva
• Radiation therapy on the neck or head
Black Tongue Symptoms
There are no symptoms besides the fact that the tongue appears different. Unless the infection is caused by candida albicans, where the infection feels burning, people remain symptom-free. Some people have noticed a tickling on their tong, or a slightly metallic taste. This is due to bacteria. Others have noticed nausea, but this is believed to be psychosomatic. Not all people with BHT have bad breath, although it does commonly happen.
Black Hairy Tongue Treatment
Treatment involves changing your oral hygiene routine. You must use a soft toothbrush twice a day and you must also brush your tongue. There are now various tongue scrapers that can be used for this. Also, make sure you drink plenty of water at all times.
Also, stop smoking and eat rough foods, so your tongue gets cleaned.
If the problem doesn’t resolve itself, seek medical attention. You may need antibiotics or perhaps some antifungal medication. Some doctors will prescribe Retin-A, which is a topical treatment. As a very last resort, the papillae may be clipped off during surgery, using either a laser or another form of electrosurgery.