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Why does your tongue get black and how to treat it

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Oral hygiene and especially of the tongue is essential to avoid the accumulation of bacteria and dead cells in small bumps that cover it. The tongue fulfills certain functions such as swallowing, chewing, language, the sense of taste and through it the flavors of food are identified.

The change in color of the tongue and stains can occur for various reasons, such as excessive consumption of coffee or tea, smoking, as well as poor oral hygiene. In this FastlyHealarticle, you will be able to learn more about why the tongue gets black and how to treat it .

Why does the tongue turn black

The tongue can turn black for multiple causes that can affect the physical appearance of the tongue, giving rise to a dark coloration, turning black, among these are:

Inadequate oral hygiene

Lack of hygiene or doing it improperly generates the proliferation of bacteria on the tongue and is one of the main reasons why the tongue turns black.


Maintaining a soft diet does not allow adequate exfoliation of the dead cells of the mucosa of the tongue, this causes their storage and darkening.


The use of some antibiotics can cause changes in the coloration of the mucosa of the tongue, making it look black or dark, due to the changes that it can generate in the normal content of the bacteria found in the mouth.

Dry mouth

Known as xerostomia , it is evidenced by the fact that the salivary glands do not produce enough saliva to keep the mouth moist, causing:

  • Bad breath.
  • Black tongue.
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing.
  • Changes in the sense of taste

Learn more about Dry Mouth: causes, symptoms and treatment .

Excessive consumption of coffee or tea

The coffee and tea are two dark drinks, intake and excessive consumption generates darkening of the tongue mucosa and buds located on the tongue, causing it to look black.


Frequent use of mouthwash can increase the risk of the tongue turning black or dark, this is due to contained substances such as menthol or peroxide . Despite killing the bacteria present in the mouth, they can generate this alteration.

Excessive alcohol consumption

Large amounts of alcoholic beverages cause the oral mucosa to dry out, making it more sensitive, in this way, it is possible to cause atrophy of the oral mucosa epithelium , increasing the risk of oral diseases that give rise to the black coloration of the tongue.

Excess tobacco

Excessive tobacco consumption contributes to the darkening of the lining of the mouth; the tongue takes on a black color and the teeth also darken. Tobacco is one of the reasons why the tongue turns black and how to avoid it is very simple: stop smoking .


In people with this disease, a darkening of the tongue can be observed with some frequency. It is one of the most frequent causes that explain why the tongue becomes black.

You may also be interested in Dry mouth due to diabetes: causes and treatment .


Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy may have a black, blotchy tongue while treatment is taking place.

Black tongue symptoms

When detecting the dark coloration of the spots on the tongue, the presence of other symptoms that you will know below will become evident:

  • Presence of a dark tone on the tongue, this can range from black to dark brown.
  • Bad breath.
  • Retching
  • Taste disorder: the person describes it as a metallic taste from the mouth.
  • Tingling sensation : This occurs when the growth of the taste buds is greater.

You may also be interested in the article: Why do I have bad breath even though I brush my teeth .

How to treat black tongue

The black and hairy tongue, as it is also known, does not need medical treatment , as it occurs temporarily and without causing damage to the sufferer. However, taking certain measures or some changes can protect you from avoiding it.

Here are some of the changes you can put into practice if you have a black tongue:

  • Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing your tongue at the time you brush your teeth gently after each meal, in this way you will eliminate dead cells, bacteria and food debris, thus avoiding accumulation on the mucosa of the tongue.
  • Brush your teeth after every meal with a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
  • Use toothbrushes that have tongue and cheek cleaners , with the scraping of the brush you will remove the dead cells that are generated on a daily basis.
  • To eliminate food debris that could be stored between the teeth and contribute to the formation of plaque, the use of dental floss is necessary.

In addition to changes in oral hygiene, it is important to visit your dentist twice a year to regularly check your teeth and to perform a professional dental cleaning.

It is also recommended to drink water daily , abundantly, with this you will avoid dry mouth and keep your body well hydrated .

If the black tongue is a consequence of taking a drug or applying chemotherapy, you should see your doctor, he will be in charge of adjusting the dose or suspending the treatment according to the symptoms you present.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Why does a black tongue get and how to treat it , we recommend that you enter our Teeth and mouth category .

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