Your tongue can be an excellent indicator about your overall health. That said, it’s ideal to know the common reasons for black spots on tongue and how to cure them. They can be a reaction to medication or a sign of an oral cancer.
The dark spots appearing on your tongue can be a cause of alarm. However, most cases are harmless. Black spots can be caused by bacteria or fungi. And the easiest way to get rid of them is to follow good oral hygiene.
- 1 Black Spots on Tongue Causes and Treatment
Black Spots on Tongue Causes and Treatment
Too much bacteria or yeast in your mouth could cause black spots to appear. They usually build up on the small bumps on the surface of your tongue known as papillae.
Normally, they shed. However, when the papillae begin to grow and lengthen, they create a hair-like projection.
In normal situation, papillae are pinkish/whitish. However, if food, drinks, bacteria and yeast are trapped in the papillae, they cause dyeing of your tongue. Most of the time, the color would turn black. This condition is not common and is most likely to occur in people who do not practice good dental hygiene.
However, discoloration of your tongue as the result of these trapped elements, can be brown, green, yellow or other colors.
As mentioned earlier, these black spots can go away through proper oral hygiene. But if they don’t go away, you should consult your doctor to determine the real cause of the discoloration.
Alcohol and Tobacco
These are two of the most common causes of a black tongue. However, a fungal infection and dry mouth may also result in black spots.
Growth of bacteria and fungi on your tongue’s surface can cause the spots to occur. They can also cause transient discoloration, which is usually the result of certain medications, food and beverages.
To treat them, you must stop smoking. Also, ask your doctor about changing your medicines. That is, if your medicines are indeed the culprits of the black spots on your tongue.
Another cause of black spots is hyperpigmentation. It occurs by itself or it’s related to a genetic condition that keeps on appearing. Most of the time, however, it’s only an aesthetic problem.
For some, it’s associated with a more severe medical condition. The spots appear small and are found on the surface or under the side of your tongue.
Hyperpigmentation on the tongue is the result of too much melanin production. You may try the use of rosehip oil, aloe vera, lemon juice or cucumber juice.
Other OTC products may also be applied. But make sure they contain any of these ingredients:
- Kojic acid
- Azelaic acid
For cosmetic reasons, your dermatologist may remove the dark spots and refer them as oral fibroma.
An oral fibroma may also look like a dark spot. It’s a smooth and round lump that is attached to the tissues of oral cavity. A fibroma may appear anywhere in the mouth. However, usually it develops in the inner lining of the lips and cheeks. It’s a tumor that is usually caused by trauma and is benign.
After you’ve endured repeated injury, scar tissue can form resulting in dark spots. You won’t feel symptoms as the result of fibroma. However, you’ll likely see the spots when you look in the mirror.
The treatment for oral fibroma is usually surgical excision. But it won’t guarantee that it’ll never come back. However, if you don’t remove it, it’ll continue to grow, which may already affect your oral health.
Thus, when it’s gone, you should be very careful not to injure your tongue again. Else, you’ll experience black spots or oral fibroma again on your tongue.
If you have oral cancer, it’s normal to see black spots on your tongue. But they sometimes appear to have altered pigmentation.
Because black spots can be a sign of an oral cancer, doctors recommend patients to have their tongue seen by a medical professional to make sure that those spots aren’t cancerous.
If you have black spots that won’t go away after brushing your tongue and you’re experiencing bleeding in your mouth, then they might be a sign of an oral cancer.
Your risk of suffering from this condition is high if you have a family history of this type of cancer. Furthermore, if you consume alcohol and smoke cigars excessively, you have a higher chance to develop this malignant disease.
Treatment of black spots as a result of oral cancer is a surgery. This type of operation requires the removal of cancerous growth. It’s usually followed with chemotherapy and radiation. The main goal of these options is to destroy the remaining malignant cells.
To prevent getting an oral cancer, it’s best to maintain a balanced diet, avoid alcohol and smoking. It’s also best to visit your dentist on a regular basis.
If you have underwent tongue piercing, you may experience black spots on your tongue. They occur when the pigmentation that provides your tongue its natural color is lost. Concurrently, when the pigmentation returns, the black spots will also disappear.
However, if you still notice them after a few weeks, treatment may be necessary. You need to visit your doctor for the proper method of eliminating the black spots following tongue piercing.
Result of Medicines
If you’re taking antibiotics, you’re more likely to experience dark spots on your tongue. Sometimes even a green tongue. They’re usually the result of your medicines interacting with the tongue.
However, not all medications can cause these spots. Drugs containing bismuth salicylate will usually cause dark staining of your tongue. Asthma inhalers and anti-depressants pills may also result in dark spots.
The simple way to remove the black spots is to brush your tongue thoroughly. If they’re not eliminated through proper brushing, you may need to consult your doctor.
Most of the time, black spots on the tongue can be easily eliminated by practicing a good oral hygiene. You may use the brush or tongue scraper to properly clean the tongue.
It’s also advisable to use mouthwash and gargle twice a day. They won’t only prevent black spots but these habits can also prevent other oral health issues.
Lifestyle and Diet
As mentioned earlier, smoking and drinking alcohol can cause black spots to occur. That said, it’s a must that you stop doing these nasty habits. Learn to live a better and healthier lifestyle. If you smoke or drink alcohol, quit now.
Furthermore, it’s also ideal to maintain a healthy diet. Make sure that you eat enough fruit and vegetables. Also, drink 8 cups of water each day. These two are pertinent to have a healthy mouth and prevent oral cancer.
Some experts are saying that sucking a piece of pineapple for 40 seconds can help get rid of dark spots on the tongue. You should do this twice a day for two weeks. However, this isn’t advisable for patients with IBS or irritable bowel syndrome as pineapple may cause adverse effects to their stomach and digestive system.
If the problem still persists, you should call your dentist or talk to your doctor. The dark spots can be caused by bacteria or fungi. Thus, your doctor may prescribe anti-bacterial or anti-fungal drugs to eliminate these harmful organisms. Some topical medicines may also be given.
Some women may experience dark spots on tongue during pregnancy or when using contraceptives. Pregnanct and contraceptives may cause hormonal changes that influence endocrine system. This in turn, produces discoloration and hyperpigmentation of the tongue.
Tongue injuries (piercings and dental appliances) are a possible cause of black patches on your tongue especially if the injury cause sores. You can also end up with dark spots on tongue from biting or after biting your tongue.
Anemia is another possible cause of black tongue spots. Many people have reported this problem. The spots can be scattered or clustered on the tongue. However, most commonly, a pale tongue is a sign of anemia.
HIV and STD
Sexually transmitted diseases such as genital warts and HIV and genital warts may produce blemishes on the tongue. However, these spots are usually white but in rare cases, black spots/sores have been reported as well. These sores can be anywhere in the mouth and other parts of the body. If you believe that your dark marks on tongue are caused by HIV or STDs, you should consult with your doctor.
Many cancer patients have reported black tongue spots during chemotherapy. This may appear with nail pigmentation as well. In rare cases, dark spots can also occur after or during chemotherapy.
Black Tongue in Infants
A black spotted tongue in infants or children can be cause of oral thrush (mostly white but can be black in color) or due to allergies, antibiotics or debris build up due to breastfeeding.
If the black spots won’t go away through oral hygiene, proper diet, and intake of drugs, your doctor may decide to surgically remove the papillae through laser or electrosurgery. Then again, this method won’t give you an assurance that these spots will never come back. They may or may not.
Besides the above causes, there are other conditions that may cause a black tongue. For example, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, Laugier-Hunziker syndrome or dilated blood vessels under the tongue or Adrenocortical insufficiency.