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Even just the name “hairy tongue” gives you shivers, and searching for images of it can make you scream. Though a hairy tongue may sound like something out of a horror movie, it is actually a dental condition which causes a dark, fur-like growth to develop on the tongue. Though this condition is harmless, here are its causes and treatments so you will know how to avoid and remedy a very scary hairy tongue.

Causes Of Hairy Tongue

Your tongue sheds and re-grows keratin and dead skin cells daily. However, these tissues do not shed if you have hairy tongue. This buildup gives the tongue a hair-like appearance, and the bacteria and yeast in the mouth can alter its color (usually to black). Some of the things that cause hairy tongue build-up include:

  • Caffeinated beverages
  • Tobacco
  • Medications containing bismuth
  • Hot beverages (which irritate the tongue tissue)
  • Radiation treatment to the head or neck areas
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Antibiotics (they change the levels of bacteria and yeast in the mouth)
  • Dry mouth
  • Dental products containing astringents or oxidizing agents
  • A soft diet (because it does not rub away dead skin cells)

Treatments Of Hairy Tongue

The appearance of hairy tongue can be disturbing, especially if the overgrowth is dark in color. However, this condition isn’t usually treated because it causes no pain or harm to health. Hairy tongue often goes away on its own, but you can speed up the process by keeping good oral hygiene and eliminating the factors that cause hairy tongue. If you do not see results, then contact your dentist or doctor for advice.