Lingua villosa nigra is generally known as black hairy tongue. Though the condition appears to be scary, it is harmless in most of the cases but looks awkward. This condition is caused by bacteria or fungi that are present on the tongue and it is easy to prevent. Excessive yeast or bacterial growth results in papillae like projection along the surface of the tongue which almost looks like tiny hairs.
Black Hairy Tongue Causes
- Poor hygienic conditions.
- Smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco.
- Drinking coffee and tea frequently.
- Regularly using peroxide, menthol for mouth wash.
Medical Reasons :
- Radiation therapy targeting the head and neck area.
- Using heavy dose antibiotics (which may change the metabolism and disrupt the conditions in mouth).
- Dry mouth syndrome in which enough saliva is not produced.
- Using medicines that contain bismuth for long time.
- BHT is commonly seen in men who are tested HIV positive.
In most of the cases people who are suffering from black hairy tongue won’t feel any discomfort but too much growth of yeast can cause burning sensation; this condition is known as glossopyrosis. Some people feel tickling sensation on the upper side of the mouth whenever the papillae touch the upper part inside the mouth.
Black hairy tongue often get confused with hairy leukoplakia, which is observed on the sides of the tongue unlike the black hairy tongue which is generally observed on the upper middle part of the tongue. The papillae can grow up to fifteen times than the normal length and appear like dense hair. Too much growth of yeast can be observed in some cases.
If you are worried about your appearance in public and the black hairy tongue is coming despite you brush, clean your tongue two times a day, you need to consult the doctor immediately. Inquire the doctor about the reasons behind this infection, restrictions in food items that need to be followed, best and permanent curing methods, follow-up actions that need to be taken etc.
Doctors usually ask the questions mentioned below and you must be ready with correct answers.
- Do you clean your mouth regularly and if yes what kind of toothpaste do you use?
- Are you observing these symptoms for the first time?
- Any recent infections/diseases and medicines you used for those infections.
- Questions on tobacco products, alcohol, tea, coffee intake.
- Any supplements and herbal products do you use.
Black hairy tongue is a symptom in many complex diseases and doctors will confirm this disease after examining and checking the conditions like.
- Overall oral hygiene of the person.
- Variations in the color and pigments of the tongue.
- Bacterial, fungal and viral infections.
- Inflammation or burning sensation along the surface of the tongue.
- Food items and medicines that are lingered to the surface of the tongue and causing this infection.
In some cases, Doctors will cut some part of the hairy structure and examine it under the microscope (biopsy) before confirming the disease. This practice is rarely followed as doctors and medical experts can easily recognize black hairy tongue just by looking at it.
BHT (Black Hairy Tongue) is a benign condition and adults are more prone for this infection because of their unhealthy life style. People who are suffering from BHT infection are suffered with inferior complex and worried about their appearance in public. So opting for a treatment is a good idea but following good and hygienic habits won’t cause BHT which is better and easy to follow than opting for treatment.
- Cleaning your tongue helps in removing the dead debris. It will also help in removal of food items that are left over inside your mouth.
- Flossing is a healthy habit and flossing once in a day relay helps in removing the food particles that are present deep inside your mouth.
- Visiting the dentist periodically will help you in reducing the risks of infections related to mouth.
- Brushing the teeth and cleaning the tongue after eating will reduce the chances of black hairy tongue occurrence for sure. If you are unable to brush every time after eating, at least rinse you mouth thoroughly with clean water.
The original color of these papillae is pinkish white but the particles from the food items we ate get struck between them and the color changes to black, thus justifying the name. The color is black in most of the cases and in some cases one can even observe green, yellow, brown and other color papillae also.
Some patients complain about the metallic taste in foods and bad odor or smell is observed because of food particles that got trapped in between papillae. Gagging sensation is observed if the growth of papillae is excessive.
- Stop smoking and quit alcohol.
- Reduce the intake of coffee and tea and other hot beverages.
- Be hygienic.
- Clean your mouth regularly.
- Visit dentist at least once in six months.
Black Hairy Tongue Treatment
- In general, black hairy tongue can be cured without any treatment if you follow hygienic methods to clean your mouth. The worst thing about this infection is it looks very unattractive but it is harmless and temporary condition.
- Stop using medicines that contain bismuth (after consulting the doctor only) and consuming tobacco products and clean your mouth regularly. This will surely control the growth of black hair in your mouth.
- Methods like rinse with mild sodium bicarbonate, sucking the peach stone, eating pine apple and using chewing gums are some of the unauthenticated methods which showed positive results for Black Hairy tongue. One can try these methods at their own risk.
Hairy tongue is not confined to human beings only and it is observed in animals like dogs, cats also. In 1937, dogs which are infected with black hairy tongue are cured by giving niacin (Vitamin B3) as medicine. Hairy tongue infection is generally high in men when compared to women and about 0.5% of total population is prone to this infection at least once in their life time.