What is Black Hairy Tongue?
Black Hairy Tongue is the name given to the appearance of an abnormal coating of the tongue.
It is a benign disorder characterised by thickening of the filiform papillae (these are mushroom-shaped projections covering most of the top surface of the tongue) of the tongue. A brownish-black discoloration of the papillæ
Why does it happen?
- There is defective shedding of the cells in the central column of the filiform papillae of the tongue resulting in the formation of highly elongated, horn-like spines or “hairs” – the hallmark of this disease. The cause for this is unknown and often no definite cause can be identified.
- Often there are no symptoms other than the cosmetic or anxiety over its cause.
- Some patients complain of gagging, nausea, alteration of taste or bad breath.
Contributing factors may include:
- Administration of topical or systemic antibiotics
- Soft diet
- Poor oral hygiene
- Use of mouthwashes
- Ion compounds use of medications containing bismuth such as Pepto-Bismol
- Antiseptic lozenges
How is it treated?
The condition may be very persistent and treatments include:
- Increasing hydration and salivation
- Discontinuing smoking
- Using a tongue scraper
- Brushing the tongue with a soft tooth brush followed by use of a dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide
- Scraping the tongue with a peach stone
- Eating pineapple
- Using sodium bicarbonate mouthwashes
- Topical retinoids or steroids
- Gentian violet, thymol, salicylic acid or vitamin B complex and surgical excision of the papillæ.