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Black Spots On Tongue: What To Do?

May 6, 2024Oral health

What To Do With The Black Spots On Tongue?

Maintaining good oral hygiene may help reduce or remove black spots on the tongue. It is recommended to brush your teeth twice daily with a soft-bristle toothbrush, floss daily, and include brushing your tongue as part of your oral hygiene routine. If the spots disappear after brushing, additional steps may not be needed. However, if the spots continue to appear, it is recommended to seek advice from a dentist for a thorough diagnosis and treatment plan.

Laser procedures for dark spots on the tongue are usually brief, lasting only a few minutes. After assessing the severity of the spots, your dentist will provide an estimate of the duration of each treatment session.

It is recommended to seek advice from a dentist or another healthcare professional for any questions regarding medical issues or treatments.


What Causes Dark Spots on the Tongue?

Tongue pigmentation, or Pigmented Fungiform Papillae of the Tongue (PPT), leads to the development of dark spots on the tongue. These spots vary in size from small marks to large patches. Tongue pigmentation is more commonly seen in individuals with darker skin tones than those with lighter skin tones, although it can affect anyone. This condition can typically appear in childhood, but can also be seen in adults.

Black spots on the tongue may indicate various health issues, which can range from minor to potentially serious. Here are six potential causes for black spots on the tongue:

Chemical Exposure

Chemicals can affect the taste buds on the tongue, causing them to darken. Certain medications contain ingredients that can affect the color of taste buds or lead to the formation of black spots. Bismuth is a chemical element that has the ability to change color and is used in certain medications.


Black spots on the tongue may be caused by injuries or cuts, such as those from tongue piercings or sharp objects. Severe damage that does not heal properly may result in the formation of black spots on the tongue.

Tongue Cancer

Symptoms of tongue cancer may include dark patches on the tongue, which can present as persistent sores or scabs. These lesions may cause symptoms like swelling and lumps, potentially resulting in swallowing difficulties. It is important to seek medical attention promptly if you notice any of these signs in order to address the issue in its early stages. Leukoplakia is a condition marked by white or gray spots that could be a sign of a pre-cancerous condition.

Poor Hygiene

Excessive consumption of anything can lead to negative effects, including impacts on our health. Consuming excessive amounts of certain foods or not properly caring for dental hygiene may result in the appearance of dark spots on the tongue. These marks may result from consuming beverages containing caffeine, such as coffee, or alcoholic drinks like wine. Improper oral care, including not brushing regularly and neglecting to clean the tongue, can cause papillae to absorb pigment from foods, resulting in the development of black spots.

Hairy Black Tongue

Hairy black tongue may sound scary, but it is usually a harmless condition resulting from a buildup of dead cells on the tongue’s surface. The taste buds on the tongue’s surface are located near small bumps called papillae. Hairy black tongue is a condition where dead cells on the tongue do not shed properly, causing dark spots, a metallic taste in the mouth, and bad breath. The formation of black spots is caused by the interaction of bacteria or fungus with accumulated dead cells.

Improper dental care, along with excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, can result in the formation of a black hairy tongue. Fortunately, effective antifungal or antibacterial remedies are available to address this issue.

Tongue Discoloration

Hyperpigmentation can be caused by an excess of pigment in the skin, resulting in freckles of various colors such as black, purple, brown, grey, or blue. This condition can indicate underlying health issues such as adrenal or genetic disorders like Addison’s disease or Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome. Pigment is important in determining our hair, skin, and eye color.

Chemotherapy can result in temporary discoloration of the tongue, which typically resolves within a few weeks. Additionally, white to grey spots on the tongue’s sides may indicate the development of leukoplakia or oral hairy leukoplakia, an autoimmune condition.

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