How I Got Rid Of My Black Hairy Tongue

black tongue treatment

You need your tongue to talk, eat, and more. So the thought of losing it because of some type of dreaded tongue disease didn’t sound very appealing to me. But I was quickly reassured that a black “hairy” tongue wasn’t anything to freak out about. That it was a relatively benign medical condition. Whew, so that was a big relief. But still, it didn’t make the condition any less appealing to say the least. I mean, it’s still pretty ugly and freakish-looking by most people’s standards. And you’d want to get rid of it if at all possible. But here’s the real kicker: I did NOT know I had this problem IN THE SLIGHTEST until my dental hygienist pointed it out to me during my annual teeth-cleaning. I. KID. YOU. NOT. So let me explain.

You May Have This Problem But Don’t Even Realize You Have It!!
So how in the world could anyone NOT notice they were suffering from this condition? I mean, seriously. If you open your mouth wide and stick your tongue out far enough and into the light, you’d see it clearly. Well, after my dental hygienist used a small hand mirror to point out this ugly condition, she then instructed me to stand in front of the larger mirror that was situated at the corner of the room. Just talk normally to check and see if I was able to notice it. Nada. Couldn’t really see my black tongue since it was mostly “hidden” inside this dark cavity (i.e. mouth). And even when you’re brushing your teeth, she said that most people will only notice that there’s a slight discoloration toward the front/tip area of the tongue. But that’s all they would normally see and so they believe there’s nothing to be alarmed about. “Basically, this problem will creep up on people without them ever noticing it”, she said. For starters, there’s no pain involved with this condition. There’s no serious bad breath problem that arises from it. And finally, you won’t really notice that you have this problem until you actually open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue out far enough and into the bright light. Heck, give it a try yourself. Just see if you have this condition as well. I mean, ever since I mentioned this simple fact, I’ve literally gotten quite alot of responses from people who were also surprised, shocked, and scratching their heads in disbelief when they found out they also suffered from this condition.

So What Causes The Tongue To Get All Black & Hairy In The First Place?
At any rate, after my initial shock and bewilderment, my next question was: what was the causes that let up to this problem I had. How did this ugly discoloration and “hairy” growth even occur? Well, in a nutshell: I found out that the tongue has a bunch of tiny projections (papillae) on its surface and this is where the taste buds are. Now normally any dead and old papillae cells would slough off completely, usually thru the fiber that’s contained in your diet. The Fiber acts like a gentle brush that brushes off those dead papillae cells. But if you don’t get enough fiber in your diet (of which I’m guilty of), and it combines with the massive build-up of yeast (usually candida) and bacteria, this makes the projections (papillae) grow long and hence the ‘hairy’ appearance. And these hairy projections that’s composed of dead cells + bacteria + yeast will easily get stained by foods & drinks that contain tannins such as coffee, tea, soda pop, just to name a few. Also tobacco, antibiotics, bismuth-containing OTC medications such as Pepto-Bismol, and even peroxides contained in those teeth-whitening products (mouthwashes, etc) will contribute to the problem. (see below).

So here are the main culprits that contribute to a black hairy tongue:

#1. Tobacco: Tobacco is often the number one culprit for developing a black tongue. All that nicotine and tar will stain the ‘hairy’ projections I mentioned earlier. And this is especially true if you’re using chewing tobacco. But numerous other things can contribute to getting those black stains as well:

#2. Pepto-Bismol: Yup, even popular Over-The-Counter medications such as Pepto-Bismol can contribute to the problem. The bismuth contained in it causes the problem.

#3. Antibiotics: Antibiotics can cause this by having an undesirable effect on the type of yeast and bacteria colonies that exist in your mouth. The ‘good’ (probiotic) colonies that have beneficial qualities would diminish while the ‘bad’ ones that helps cause this problem would proliferate.

#4. Teeth Whitening Mouthwashes: Here’s another whopper. Most of those teeth whitening mouthwashes you find sold at your local store can also encourage the growth of that black ugly coating. The peroxides that helps produce that beautiful teeth-whitening effect will ironically have an undesirable affect on the yeast and bacteria colonies that exist in your mouth. Just to add, even mouthwashes which contain menthol or witch hazel can also play a role in producing a black hairy tongue.

#5. Not enough fiber in my diet: Finally, my diet habits. Not enough fiber in my diet. (Yup, guilty as charged.). Apparently the fiber acts like a ‘gentle sweeper’ that helps brush off some of that dead cell build-up we discussed earlier.

#6. Too much sugar in my diet: Guilty here as well. All that sugar (soda pop, twinkies, candy bar, cakes, even the sugar I add to my coffee) apparently feeds the wrong kinds of bacteria and yeast.

So What Do Most Dentists & Dental Hygienists Recommend For Treating This Problem?
Both my dentist and the oral hygienist immediately recommended I begin using a tongue scraper to help scrape off the black growth. In addition, they suggested I brush my tongue and teeth a minimum of three or four times a day instead of the usual two. Furthermore, I needed to floss consistently. And finally they recommended I use a good antibacterial mouthwash, as well as change my diet (add more fiber, reduce sugar consumption, etc). In a nutshell – practice better oral hygiene. Only problem was, I tried those things faithfully for six months but only saw a moderate improvement in my condition. Sure, my black tongue was less noticeable than when I first started out, but my ugly condition didn’t really change that much to be honest. So I kept searching for any other advice I could find about treating this condition. But no matter where I’d look – websites and articles by dentists, dental hygienists, dental associations, you name it – I’d hear the same exact thing repeated again and again: “Practice better hygiene” by following those suggestions already mentioned above. Yeah, well, tried it already.

Not willing to give up, I decided to search the net to explore other possible alternative methods to tackle the problem. “Alternative treatment for black tongue”, etc. And what I kept seeing were these 2 phrases: Tea Tree Oil and Neem. I did recently find yet another ingredient that helps with the cleaning: Activated Charcoal.

So What’s The Story Behind These Ingredients?
Neem: Neem is an herb that has long been used for oral care in Southeast Asia. The twigs, branches, and bark of the herb is rubbed directly on the teeth (sort of like a big toothpick, but then some). Neem has strong antiseptic properties.

Tea Tree Oil: Tea Tree Oil has had a long history of being used as a topical ‘ointment’ for skin problems. It has very strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. But it’s also used for oral hygiene care as well.

Activated Charcoal: I now use an Activated Charcoal toothpaste when cleaning my tongue and this seems to do a much thorough cleaning. The way activate charcoal works is that it physically traps the bacterial/fungal growth and dead tissue that make up the hairy tongue growth. Probably similar in function as the fiber in your diet that brushes/scrapes off the growth from the tongue.

At any rate, what I needed to do next was to find out if there was a convenient way to utilize these ingredients in treating my black tongue. Were there any oral care products already in existence that included these powerful ingredients? If so, in what shape or form? Well, luckily I did find out that such products existed. There were toothpastes and mouthwashes that included them! Needless to say, I ordered several of these types of toothpastes and mouthwashes and started to use them.

And The Results? You’ll Be Very Impressed
Just one session did more to clean away the black growth than the 6 months of tongue scraping, etc. And within a week the black discoloration was all gone.

Here’s My Daily Routine And It’s Easy As Pie, But…
Seriously, what I do isn’t any different from what you’d normally do. Brush your teeth, brush your tongue, and then using a mouthwash. The only big difference ofcourse is that you’re now using toothpaste and mouthwash that contains those powerful ingredients we’ve being talking about (Tea Tree Oil, Neem, and Activated Charcoal). That’s basically it. Heck, I don’t even bother using a tongue scraper anymore.

Toothpaste: I often use this brand and product (details here). It conveniently contains both Neem and Tea Tree Oil. I just use this to brush my teeth first, then apply another swab of paste to brush my tongue. (FWIW, I use a sonic toothbrush for this. Trying to brush my tongue manually was a bit clumsy and got a bit messy. But it’s easy peasy using a sonic toothbrush.).

Activated Charcoal Toothpaste: I usually grab a toothpaste and not the powdered form. But that’s really up to you. (details here). Activated Charcoal Toothpaste is famous for “mechanically” removing the surface stains from your teeth. But I find that it helps with cleaning the tongue. (Once again, it’s easy peasy if you use a sonic toothbrush.).

Mouthwash: This one contains mostly Tea Tree Oil (details here). They do carry Neem mouthwashes as well, but I find this Tea Tree Oil mouthwash does the trick in most cases. But for really tough situations, I’d throw in a Neem mouthwash into the mix as well like this one for a nice synergistic effect. Cover all your bases with those nasty and determined critters we’re dealing with (bacteria and fungi).

*Optional Step: Although the above items were enough to produce the results I’ve experienced, I’ve recently added this third step to my routine. I recommend it if you want to see even faster results. What I do is use several drops of undiluted 100% tea tree oil or any of these cold pressed unrefined Neem Oils to brush my tongue. Usually as an additional step. Just don’t swallow since it’s not for internal consumption.

Here’s Wishing You Great Results!
I believe you’ll see it, based on all of the positive feedback we’re getting. No more black hairy tongue. 👍 👍 👍

*Medical Disclaimer: Now here’s the thing. I’m not a dentist nor am I a dental hygienist (read my disclaimer if necessary). So I won’t make any guarantees it’ll work this fast for everyone. I’m only sharing what’s working for me to keep those critters (bacteria + fungi) at bay. It’s something I wasn’t able to do just from following the “practice better oral hygiene” routine.>