Black Spots on the Tongue: Causes & Treatments

Did you notice a black spot on your tongue, and you’re unsure about its cause? Spotting unusual marks on your tongue or teeth can be problematic, especially when maintaining good oral health. Not every spot, stain, or patch on the tongue is life-threatening. However, spots on the tongue can sometimes indicate a serious underlying condition. Let’s learn about the causes and treatments for black spots on the tongue.

Natural Appearance of Your Tongue

Before we jump straight into what’s not normal, let’s discuss the natural appearance of your tongue.
The human tongue is a muscle having taste buds. When you chew, your tongue moves food around the mouth while the taste buds send signals about flavor to your brain. You can see taste buds as they look like dark spots when drinks like coffee or a red wine stain them.

Causes of Black Spots on the Tongue

Hyperpigmentation
Another reason why you see black spots on your tongue can be due to a condition called hyperpigmentation. Pigmentation gives color to your skin, eye, and hair. But excessive pigment concentration can cause harmless dark spots. If this is the case for you, then don’t worry. These spots will likely clear up within a few weeks.

Injury to the Tongue

Tongue injuries and oral piercings may cause black spots. If you experienced an oral injury or piercing, you could see a dark spot as a lingering indication of damage.

Chemical Exposure to your Tongue

Certain chemicals can turn your tongue black when they react with acids on your tongue’s surface. Exposure to the chemical bismuth may result in the discoloration of the tongue. These chemicals are often present in some medications. Though the chemical bismuth often changes the color of your entire tongue, the change could start with small black patches.

Tongue Cancer

As we said earlier, black spots on the tongue are rarely a sign of a serious underlying condition. It can be due to cancer. You may see dark spots as sores or scabs that do not heal. Other signs of tongue cancer are:

  • A red, white, or brown patch on the tongue that doesn’t go away
  • A persistent sore throat
  • An ulcer or lump on the tongue
  • Pain when you swallow
  • Persistent numbness in the mouth

If you notice black, brown, red, or white patches on the tongue, make sure to schedule a dental examination.

Treating Black Spots on the Tongue

The first and foremost thing you should do to remove black spots is to improve oral hygiene. Don’t forget to brush your tongue when you brush your teeth.

If those dark spots disappear after cleaning the tongue, they may not require further treatment.
However, notice and report anything unusual you see in your mouth to your dentist. If black spots persist on the tongue and are accompanied by other symptoms like swellings or lumps, please visit Mission Bend Family Dentistry at your earliest. You can also give us a call at 832-895-5110 today to schedule an appointment. Our dentist can determine the cause and recommend the appropriate treatment.

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