Black Hairy Tongue refers to an oral condition wherein debris or other organisms are trap and stained  the tongues’ papillae making it look dark and furry. This condition is temporary and may easily be resolve by proper hygiene.

The papillae usually sheds debris in the mouth, however because of too much bacteria or yeast growth, it lengthens and create a hair-like projection. Pigments from food and drinks makes the color black but the tongue can also turn into other colors like brown, yellow or green.

Many factors can contibute to the existence of black hairy tongue, including:

  • Changes in the normal bacteria or yeast content of the mouth after antibiotic use
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Regular use of mouthwashes containing irritating oxidizing agents, such as peroxide
  • Smoking
  • Drinking excessive amounts of coffee or black tea
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Eating a soft diet that doesn’t help to rub dead skin cells from the tongue

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Black discoloration of the tongue (it may also be in color brown, tan, green, yellow or white)
  • A hairy or furry appearance of the tongue
  • Altered taste or metallic taste in the mouth
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Gagging or tickling sensation (this happens if there is an excessive growth of papillae)


The doctor may diagnose black hairy tongue base on the appearance and the contributing factors. He or she may also perform tests to rule out other condition that is similar to the tongue such as Oral lesions and Blackened tongue due to consuming Bismuth.



Black hairy tongue don’t usually need medical treatment. Although it look scary it is temporary and harmless and can be resolve by brushing regularly. Also, quit smoking reduce coffee or black tea consumption.

Related Articles


Overview and FactsTypes and SymptomsDiagnosis & MedicationsOverview and Facts Tetralogy of Fallot is a congenital heart defect that affects the [...]


Overview and FactsTypes and SymptomsDiagnosis & MedicationsOverview and Facts Trichinosis, also known as trichinellosis, is a parasitic infection caused by [...]


Overview and FactsTypes and SymptomsDiagnosis & MedicationsOverview and Facts Trigeminal neuralgia is a neurological condition characterized by severe facial pain. [...]