Black hairy tongue is a harmless temporary oral condition. It gives the tongue black and flurry appearance.

This is a condition of defective desquamation of the filiform papillae.


black tongue, lingua villosa nigra.


Usually unknown but below are some of the causes-

  • A soft diet: A lack of stimulation for abrasion to the surface of the tongue can prevent sufficient shedding of the papillae.
  • Poor oral hygiene: This can cause a buildup of bacteria or yeast, contributing to hairy tongue.
  • Certain substances: Tobacco use, as well as excessive consumption of alcohol, coffee or tea, for example.
  • Dehydration or dry mouth: Lack of moisture in the mouth can make a person more prone to having hairy tongue.
  • Certain medications: These include some treatments for stomach acid reflux.
  • Oral hygiene products: Certain types of mouthwash, such as those containing peroxide. 


Age: occurs at any age

Sex: No gender predilection is seen but seen mostly in males than in females.

Site: dorsal surface and the lateral surface of the tongue.


  • Usually Asymptmatic.
  • Patient may present black discoloration of the tongue, although the color may be brown, tan, green, yellow or white.
  • hairy or furry appearance of the tongue.
  • Altered taste or metallic taste in your mouth.
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Gagging or tickling sensation, if the overgrowth of the papillae is excessive.


Elongated filiform papillae with mild hyperkeratosis and occasional inflammatory cells

Debris accumulation among the papillae and candida pseudohyphae may be seen.


Recommended to maintain a good oral hygiene, use of mouth wash, regular brushing

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