Why did I wake up with a black tongue?

This blogpost will answer the question Why did I wake up with a black tongue?

And will include the following topics:Why Is My Tongue Black?

Causes. Symptoms

Diagnosis. Treatment

Preventive Care

When to see a doctor

Reasons to watch your tongue

Why did I wake up with a black tongue?

A black tongue also known as hairy tongue is probably the reason you may wake up with a black tongue. Bacteria or fungus in the mouth create black hairy tongue, which makes the tongue seem black and hairy. A black tongue is a short – term oral disorder that is completely harmless..

Why Is My Tongue Black?

A black hairy tongue is a harmless dental condition that causes the tongue to look dark and furry. A deposit of dead skin cells on the numerous small projections (papillae) on the surface of the tongue that contain taste receptors causes the characteristic appearance. Bacteria, yeast, cigarettes, food, and other items can readily capture and discolour these papillae, which are longer than typical.


Experts aren’t sure why the tongue sometimes stops shedding dead skin cells, but it may be related to:

Oral hygiene is poor

If you don’t clean your teeth and tongue or rinse your mouth regularly, dead skin cells are more likely to accumulate on the tongue.

Saliva production is low

Saliva aids in the digestion of dead skin cells. These dead skin cells might persist on your tongue if you don’t produce enough saliva.

Liquid diet

Eating solid meals contributes to the removal of dead skin cells from the tongue. This does not happen if you follow a liquid diet.

Side effects of medication Dry mouth is a side effect of several drugs, making it easier for skin cells to gather on the papillae.

Other things can discolour your tongue once it quits shedding dead skin cells. These are some of the substances:


Antibiotics are effective against both healthy and toxic bacteria in the body. This can disturb the delicate bacterial harmony in your mouth, allowing yeasts and bacteria to proliferate.


Tobacco, whether smoked or chewed, is one of the most prominent risk factors for black tongue. Tobacco stains the elongated papillae on your tongue very easily and readily.

Drinking coffee or tea

Coffee and tea, especially if consumed in large quantities, can readily discolour elongated papillae.

Some mouthwashes

Certain strong mouthwashes containing oxidising chemicals, such as peroxide, might disrupt the equilibrium of bacteria in your mouth.

Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol)

Bismuth subsalicylate is a prominent component in certain over-the-counter gastrointestinal medicines. When it interacts with sulphur residues in your mouth, it can stain your tongue, making it almost seem black.


Apart from the appearance of the tongue, most individuals with a black hairy tongue have no symptoms or experience any pain. The exception is when the yeast Candida albicans grows excessively, which can create a burning feeling on the tongue. Glossopyrosis is the medical term for this burning feeling.

A tickling sensation at the back of the tongue, a metallic taste in the mouth, or nausea are all common complaints. In more serious instances, the condition might result in gagging. Bad breath can be caused by food becoming stuck inside the extra-long papillae.


Consult a doctor if your symptoms do not improve after a few days of at-home therapy. By visually checking your tongue and considering your medical history, a doctor can diagnose black hairy tongue.

Your doctor may scrape the colour of your tongue to examine whether it starts to diminish. If it does, you may be suffering with a black hairy tongue.

Your doctor can help you figure out what’s causing your black tongue and rule out other possibilities, such as a fungal or bacterial illness.

Some tests that might be needed include:

Bacterial culture swabs

Fungal scrapings

Other Conditions:

There are a few other conditions that can look similar to black tongue, including:

Oral hairy leukoplakia (a condition caused by Epstein-Barr virus)

Pigmented fungiform papillae of the tongue

Acanthosis nigricans


Treatment for a black tongue is relatively simple. Brushing your tongue with a toothbrush on a daily basis should help eliminate dead skin cells and stains within a few days in most instances..

Make an appointment with your doctor if you feel your black tongue is caused by a medicine or a prescribed liquid diet. To assist manage yeast or bacteria in your mouth, they may be able to alter your dosage or prescribe an antifungal or antibacterial prescription.

Your doctor may also prescribe a topical retinoid medication to help increase cell turnover on your tongue.

For stubborn elongated papillae, a doctor can remove them using carbon dioxide laser burning or electrodessication, which simultaneously cuts and seals the papillae.

However, you can usually take care of the condition yourself:

Brush your tongue

Brush your tongue twice a day with a soft toothbrush to help remove dead skin cells and bacteria manually.

Use a tongue scrapper

When you clean your teeth, use a tongue scraper to prevent skin cells from forming on your papillae.

Brush after eating

Brushing your teeth and tongue after each meal will assist to keep food debris and bacteria out of your papillae.

Brush after drinking

Brushing shortly after drinking coffee, tea, and alcohol will help prevent staining.

Stop using tobacco products

The best thing you can do for your tongue and yourself is to stop smoking or chewing tobacco. If you’re not ready to give up tobacco, clean your teeth and tongue after each use, or every 2 hours.

Floss before bed

Flossing your teeth at least once per day will prevent food debris and plaque from building up in your mouth.

Schedule a cleaning

Getting a cleaning at your dentist’s office will help you maintain good oral health.

Drink plenty of water

This will help keep your mouth hydrated, which allows you to swallow dead skin cells.

Chew gum

Chewing a sugar-free gum or a gum made for persons with dry mouths helps encourage the production of more saliva, which will help wipe away dead skin cells. Gum helps to remove trapped skin cells as you chew.

Eat a balanced diet

A diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains will help you maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your mouth.

Preventive Care

A black tongue is easily reversible, and you may always avoid it by taking the significantly associated measures and determining the reason with the aid of your dental professional. For example, if you have dry mouth symptoms, your dentist may prescribe mouth rinses or adjustments in your lifestyle to promote hydration. TThey may advise you to make dietary changes, quit smoking, try new drugs, or stop using your existing meds. These lifestyle changes may be the difference between getting rid of your black tongue and not. It may take some trial and error to figure out what works best for you in order to get rid of it. Rest assured that your dentist will be there to assist you in figuring things out!

While the appearance of a black tongue might be worrisome, the disease is reversible and safe. If your black tongue does not go away on its own, we recommend immediately improving your oral health regimen and making an appointment with your dentist. They’ll be able to figure out what’s causing your black tongue, offer treatment advice, and discuss with you about making long-term lifestyle changes to reduce your chances of it reappearing!

When to see a doctor

Although black tongue is concerning, it is not a medical emergency.

It is advisable to wait a few days and try various home treatments before consulting a doctor or dentist. However, if a person’s symptoms persist or worsen, he or she should seek medical attention..

Sometimes, black tongue occurs with other symptoms of an oral health problem, such as:

gum pain

mouth infection

tooth infection

a broken tooth

If a person’s black tongue is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, they should contact a doctor or dentist as soon as possible:



visibly damaged teeth

Reasons to watch your tongue

A Sore, Bumpy Tongue 

Every tongue has a rough texture by nature, and not every bump is concerning. When a new bump emerges and lasts for more than two weeks, or when it is accompanied by pain or soreness. A lump or bump that doesn’t go away might be an early warning sign of oral cancer, so have it evaluated as soon as possible.


While anyone can develop oral cancer, there are some things that increase the risk including tobacco use, alcohol, too much sun on the lips without protection, or HPV. 


Lumps, bumps, or painful sores that don’t go away, chronic bad breath, changes in voice, difficulty chewing or swallowing, numbness of the tongue. 


Changes in tongue texture may be alarming at first, although ridges or a scalloped look on the tongue’s margins are usually safe.


Teeth grinding, pressing the tongue on the teeth during stressful times or even while sleeping, sleep apnea, smoking, nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin B-12, riboflavin, niacin, or iron


Ridges, ripples, indents, or scalloped edges on the sides of the tongue.  

White Spots

If your tongue seems to be covered with white patches, you may have oral thrush or leukoplakia. Oral thrush is an infection caused by Candida yeast, whereas leukoplakia is caused by cigarette or alcohol usage. Leukoplakia can occasionally progress to oral cancer.


Poor oral hygiene, tobacco use, alcohol use, dehydration, dry mouth, mouth breathing. 


White patches or spots or a white coating on the tongue. The white spots or coating can show up either on the entire tongue or just in select places.

Other FAQs about Tongue Health that you may be interested in.

Can Your Tongue Get Sunburned?

Can Your Tongue Die?

Can your tongue grow back?


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