Black Hairy Tongue, medically known as lingua villosa nigra is an unsightly condition where hundreds of papillae on the tongue grow and form hairlike structures says Marietta dentist. The tongue discolors and looks furry just like hair. Normally papillae wear away and stay short. The sloughing off cells is normal. Papillae, finger-like projections grow continually, and in rare cases grow unusually long. Normally, these cells stay short and wear away from normal eating and oral hygiene, but in black hairy tongue, they do not. The hair-like projections can turn the color of food consumed, although many times they turn black. The tongue can turn brown, pink, white or green depending on the food consumed or even the color of mouth rinse used. Bacteria and other organisms become trapped in the elongated papillae. Although it rarely occurs in healthy people, it’s cause is not definitive. It is neither an infection or cancer and usually goes away on its own.
Black hairy tongue has an overgrowth of bacteria on the tongue. It is found on the top of the tongue and not underneath, and in most cases, coats the middle to back half of the tongue. Although, no known cause has been determined, it is usually harmless and temporary. Your chances of developing the condition can be increased by certain medications (such as antibiotics & anti-diarrhea). Antibiotics in particular can kill the “good bacteria” in your system and allow an over abundance of yeast to form in the mouth. Poor oral hygiene and mouth breathing also has been known to contribute to getting Black Hairy Tongue, as well as smoking, drug addiction and alcoholism. Treatments for diseases such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy also put people at a higher risk. Mouth washes and certain products with witch hazel can promote over growth in the mouth.
Diseases such as; cancer, AIDS, dehydration, GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), heartburn, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency virus, and others can set the stage for Hairy Tongue. Diabetics with uncontrolled glucose level also are at a higher risk.
People with Black Hairy Tongue suffer with halitosis, (bad breath) and can have a choking sensation as the tongue feels altered. The sensation of taste can be interrupted and food may not taste as it normally does.
If the condition is contracted, use a toothbrush twice a day and brush the tongue well. A tongue scraper can be purchased in a local drugstore and can promote the return of good oral hygiene. Keeping the papillae shortened and unable to trap bacteria, will prevent Black Hairy Tongue.
Consistent, excellent oral hygiene helps prevent Black Hairy Tongue. Since it is very rare, it is unlikely that most people will ever acquire the condition. Brushing and flossing not only your teeth but tongue twice a day will help keep the papillae cells shortened. A tongue scraper used in conjunction with brushing can also keep the cells from over growing, removes dead cells, bacteria and food debris. A tongue scraper can be purchased at any drug store over the counter. Since the condition is harmless, there is no need to seek medical advice unless it persists longer than two weeks. However, if you have concerns or the condition doesn’t clear up, seek a dentist for consult. The health of your teeth is important, and so is your tongue says Marietta, GA dentist.