What are black spots on the tongue? The tip of the tongue, sides, and underside of the tongue can have black marks or tiny dark spots. What causes them, and how can you get rid of dark or purple spots on your tongue?
Here are pictures and how to remove the dots from your tongue.
The tongue is a very crucial organ of your body. Any condition on it affects your appetite and might end up having a health implication in the long run. The occurrence of spots especially should be given immediate attention without delay.
What causes black spots on the tongue?
The condition of having black spots on the tongue is also at times known by the name hairy tongue. It entails having small or tiny black dots on different parts of your tongue. These parts may include the tip of your tongue, sides, back, under, or the entire surface of your tongue. The colors of these spots range from being dark to grey.
There are cases where the dark patches will start from the sides and spread to the center of your tongue. The dark dots on the tongue have different shades depending on the underlying causes; some may be slightly bumpy or raised above the tongue surface. The outline below gives some of the leading causes:
1. Skin hyperpigmentation
This is a condition that indicates that there is excessive production of melanin in the body. This is a naturally occurring pigment that gives the skin, hair, or fur the dark color. Melanin can, therefore, cause darkening of your skin as well as part of your tongue or the whole tongue.
- The appearance of dark spots due to melanin may be at the tip of the tongue, back of the tongue, or below the tongue.
- You should never worry because of dark spots on your tongue as a result of hyperpigmentation. This usually is a harmless condition that would even resolve on its own.
The condition is not likely to be tolerated in women. This is because of cosmetic value. There are various approaches and treatments, including laser or other cosmetic surgeries, use of over the counter products that contain kojic acid, hydroquinone, or calcium that can be used to correct this. There are also various home remedies that can effectively fade away the dark spots.
2. Excessive intake of alcohol and smoking
Excessive intake of alcohol and tobacco smoking are the major causes of the black tongue. It also increases the risk of developing fungal and bacterial infections on your tongue that also causes the black spots to appear on your tongue.
To treat this condition, you have to quit smoking and avoid excessive alcohol consumption. You should also visit your doctors for the treatment of the existing dark dots. He or she may also advise you on the proper tongue hygiene that will help to get rid of your condition.
3. Poor oral hygiene
Dark spots may also develop on your tongue due to poor oral hygiene of your tongue. Unhygienic tongue harbors various germs like bacteria and fungi that results in various infections that cause tiny black spots on the tongue.
Cleaning the tongue properly using a brush or a tongue scraper helps to prevent new spots from developing on your tongue as well as healing the existing ones. When cleaning the tongue, ensure you brush the teeth twice a day and floss regularly.
We recommend using mouth rinses:
- BreathRx Anti-Bacterial Mouth Rinse
- Colgate Peroxyl Mouth Sore Rinse, Mild Mint
- CloSYS Ultra Sensitive Mouthwash
Body allergic reactions to different allergens in food, medication, and dental care products can cause black spots on the tongue and other parts of your body, including the skin. Taking over-the-counter medicines like antihistamine can help to fix your condition. However, do not hesitate to visit your doctor if the symptoms persist.
5. Some medications cause purple spots on the tongue
Black dots can develop on your tongue when taking certain medicines like antibiotics. This condition occurs when the medication interacts with your tongue.
However, not all antibiotics cause a black tongue. Those containing bismuth salicylate, asthma inhalers, and anti-depressant are among the drugs that can cause this condition.
6. Anemic condition
Anemia is also associated with dark spots on the tongue. The spots may be found to be clustered at particular points of your tongue or different parts of the tongue. A pale tongue commonly accompanies this condition.
7. Oral fibroma
This is a condition that is known to cause smooth, tiny spots on the tongue. They are likely to be slightly elevated above the tongue surface. This condition is non-cancerous. It is likely to develop in different parts of your mouth, including inside the cheeks, on the roof of your mouth and under the tongue.
The cause of this condition is most likely to be repetitive trauma to the tongue. Other reasons include habits like biting your tongue or taking very hot, spicy, and salty foods or beverages for a long time. There is some belief that this condition is hereditary and can hence be passed from one family member to the other.
Surgery can be used to correct this. However, it might hold if the fibroma is caused by trauma, and trauma is still in existence. It may also reoccur and can lead to other oral conditions or diseases. It is, therefore, reasonable to take good care of your tongue, including avoiding injuries.
8. Tongue piercing
This has proven to be a fashionable practice in the cosmetic industry. The only challenge is that it is likely to lead to dark spots at the piercing site. The dots are likely to occur because thee pierce site has lost its original pigmentation.
Poor tongue piercing aftercare practices can also result in various infections like fungal that can lead to dark spots. It is therefore recommended to follow the instructions given strictly after piercing to avoid such conditions.
Black spots on the tongue as a result of piercing usually disappears on its own upon the healing of your piercing. Visit your doctor or your professional tongue piercer for treatment if the black spots fail to fade away upon the healing of your tongue piercing.
9. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy
If you are under cancer treatments like chemotherapy, you may experience black tongue and other symptoms that include nail pigmentation. You may use some of the home remedy treatments to restore your tongue back to its color after chemotherapy treatments.
10. Trauma or injuries
Tongue injuries that result from tongue biting, very hot, spicy, or salty foods may be another cause of black spots on your tongue. Injuries can also be a companied with other symptoms like irritation, inflammation, or swelling.
11. Oral cancer
Oral cancer can be a source of a headache when it comes to black spots. When you are diagnosed with oral cancer, you are likely to have dark spots that do not go away even after using home remedies or any other remedies.
The spots are likely to occur on the tips of the tongue, sides of the tongue, or underside of the tongue and even the whole tongue. There are other symptoms that will come with this. They may include bleeding, especially when brushing your teeth and cleaning your tongue.
Various habits increase your chances of getting oral cancer, like excessive smoking and alcohol consumption. The risk of getting this condition also increases if your family members have a history of oral cancer.
12. Allergic reactions and exposure to some chemicals
If you come into contact with some chemicals such as bismuth, including Pepto-Bismol chewable tablets, they are likely to make your entire tongue to be black or cause black patches on your tongue. To further on that, allergic reactions to some allergens such as medications might cause a stained tongue.
To deal with this problem, avoid getting contact with allergens, use antihistamines and go for further treatment in case the problem persists
13. STDs and HIV
Sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and genital warts are known to cause some blemishes on the tongue, especially white spots (rarely black spots) sores on tongue, mouth, lips, among other parts of the body. However, you should not make any conclusion that your dark marks on the tongue are related to STD or HIV; you should be having other symptoms that might make you settle for such a conclusion.
During pregnancy, you are likely to get black spots on your tongue if you are taking birth control pills. Pregnancy and contraceptives cause hormonal changes in your body that may influence your endocrine system that may result in hyperpigmentation of your tongue. This condition normally resolves on its own after delivery or when you stop taking the contraceptives.
The continuous and excessive use of antibiotics, soft diets, poor oral hygiene, drinking, and smoking tobacco can lead to hair-like black spots on your tongue. This is normally called a hairy tongue due to elongated and irritated papillae.
These black clusters are caused by the growth of fungi on your tongue. It is likely to disappear on its own if you stopped drinking or smoking. Poor hygiene has also been attributed to this problem, among other causes.
What is more, the use of breath mints and mouthwashes at times might make the black or dark spots to turn white or pink. Always be on the watch out so that it does not come as a surprise when it occurs. Furthermore, when you have a hairy tongue, there is a likelihood of suffering from oral candida albicans or oral thrush infection.
To add on what has been discussed above, the other possible causes of black tongue include:
- Excessive body dehydration
- Frequent use of mouthwash that contains harsh chemicals like peroxide, menthol or witch hazel
- Taking coffee or tea a lot
- Not being able to produce enough saliva in your mouth
There are some communities in various parts of the world who associate the black spots to multiple things. Some communities believe that black spots could mean a bad omen or an evil spell or some superstitious occurrence to that particular person.
To mention an example, in India, it is believed that if you have a little or tinny spots on your tongue, whatever you say shall come to pass someday.
Pictures of black spots on the tongue
In order to have a clear view and vivid knowledge of the black spots, this article has included some pictures to act as visual aids to help you out. By this, you can visualize and understand the various parts of the tongue that are affected.
Take note that the pictures could show the spots depending on the various causes. There is likely to be variation in size, color, and shape, depending on the specific cause. Some of the spots are on the surface of the tongue, while others are slightly raised above the tongue surface. The color also varies from black, brown to gray.
Black spots under the tongue
Once you notice dark spots under your tongue, it is always wise that you consult your doctor for the right diagnosis. The reason for this is because it could also be concerning a certain form of mouth cancer, which is life-threatening and requires immediate medical tension.
In most cases, melanoma is among the major causes of dark spots under your tongue. Melanoma is a type of cancer that results from pigment cells that give your skin color. It can occur on any part of your body, including under the tongue or sides of the mouth. This condition is common among smokers.
The other common cause of dark dots under tongue filling some of your teeth with silver or amalgam. In the process of amalgamation, some silver particles are thrown at high speed and may deposit itself on the lower part of your tongue.
The practice of tongue piercing is likely to bring about black spots under the tongue upon healing. On the other hand, a poor tongue piercing and aftercare instructions may contribute to infections that bring about dark patches under the tongue.
Dark dots on sides of the tongue
There are cases and situations where spots appear on the sides of your tongue.
The spots could appear small or big, on one side or both sides of the tongue. The most frequent cause of this condition includes dental issues and appliances. Apart from that, this problem could be caused by many other reasons such as adrenocortical insufficiency, malignant melanoma if they keep on growing in size, smoking, drinking, tobacco chewing.
Black spot on the tip of the tongue
When you have tiny spots on the tip of your tongue, it could be attributable to various conditions. Of great likelihood include hyperpigmentation, smoking, acid reflux, poor oral hygiene, the tip of the tongue piercing, dental appliances, among other causes. This condition has been found to affect both adults and children alike.
How to remove black spots on the tongue
The occurrence of black spots is not necessarily a severe or life-threatening condition that should get you worried. In some cases, it would simply require you to change or adjust your lifestyle or way of doing things.
On other occasions, it could be brought about by life-threatening conditions like oral cancer. In this case, it is recommended that you visit your doctor for diagnosis and treatment, especially when experiencing bleeding, inflammation, swelling, or pain.
Antifungals and some home remedies are known to cure black spots on the tongue due to fungal growths. Ensure you get the right diagnosis and change your hobbies such as tobacco chewing and smoking, alcohol consumption as well as poor oral hygiene.
The following are some insights to give you an edge on how to approach this condition when you face it:
Improve your oral hygiene
Oral hygiene forms the most basic and first attempt to treat dark spots on your tongue. This helps to remove the food particles that remain trapped in the mouth. Brushing or scraping your tongue at least once or twice a day helps to remove the dirty that harbors the fungi that cause the dark stains.
It is also important to brush your teeth twice daily and floss to remove and kill the bacteria that cause mouth infection. You may also use a mouthwash to kill the bacteria. Avoid mouthwashes that contain harsh chemicals.
Drink plenty of water
Drying of your tongue encourages the formation of plaque or stains on your tongue and teeth. Make it a routine to take 8 glasses of water or more to keep your body hydrated. Drinking water regularly also helps to clean your mouth.
Ensure you have adequate and quality roughages in your diet
Quality roughage is useful to help clear the stains from your tongue. This helps to keep the plaques at bay. Always ensure that you incorporate sufficient fruits and raw vegetables in your diet. These also add to your immune system at large.
Gargle with cinnamon and clove water
Cinnamon and clove have antiseptic properties. This is important in fighting the staining of the tongue that is caused by bacterial infection to the tongue. These two ingredients also help to restore some freshness in your breath. The procedure involves
- Mixing an equal amount of cinnamon and clove in a glass of water.
- Boiling it for 3 minutes and allow the solution to cool before rinsing in your mouth.
This is very important if you want to remove the stains of black spots on your tongue. To use this, the procedure below is key:
- Just take 6 leaves of the Neem tree and boil in a glass of water.
- Allow to mixture to cool and rinse it twice a day daily until the dark spots vanish.
Avoid smoking and excessive intake of alcohol
Habitual smoking leads to the formation of plaques in your mouth and more so on your tongue. In the long run, this provides a conducive environment for the thriving of bacteria. Excessive consumption of alcohol affects the black spots in that it brings about dehydration of soft tissues in your mouth and therefore leading to plaque formation.
Gargle garlic and coconut oil solution
A combination of garlic and coconut oil is perfect for fighting fungal infection in your mouth. Coconut oil also helps in detoxing and pulling off the stains. The procedure is as follows:
- Mash garlic to make a paste
- Add some coconut oil and some water to make a solution.
- Rinse the solution in your mouth 3-4 times a day.
When to see a doctor
When you have dark spots that are bleeding, inflamed, and painful, visiting the doctor is always the best option. The doctor will give the best diagnosis. Afterward, your doctor will perform the test and prescribe some medicine to use.