I Have A Black Spot On My Tongue – Should I Be Worried?

Our tongue is a very important part of the human body. It handles one of the five senses, which is taste. However, a tongue has more responsibility than that. It serves as a natural cleaning agent in the mouth and indicates overall health. Your tongue changes its form, color, or texture whenever something goes wrong in the body, such as the growth of black spot on the tongue.

Usually, the patches or spots of different colors like brown, pink, or black may be harmless. However, they can sometimes emerge as a symptom of a serious disease.

What Does A Natural Tongue Look Like?

The human tongue is a fleshy pink organ that has taste buds all over it. The tongue helps in chewing food, keeping the mouth clean, and maintaining oral pH levels. When you eat, the buds send electrical signals which reach the brain, interpreting flavor.

As alarming as it looks, when the tongue develops black spot, there is no need of worrying, it is usually not a sign of anything serious. Most of the time, pigmentation turns the color of the tongue dark like brown or black in spot or dot form. On the other hand, there are a few other reasons why black dots may appear on the tongue.

Chemical Exposure

Acids are present in the food you eat, and so naturally, it is present on the tongue surface as well. Certain chemicals react with the acids on the tongue, turning it black in color. Usually, the entire tongues goes black but may form patches or spots too.

Tongue Injury

Mostly injuries because of an accident or oral piercings form a tiny black spot on the tongue. The injuries are not necessarily because of big accidents, they can also occur from accidental biting or cuts. A black spot staying on for a long time may indicate something bigger; schedule an appointment with your dentist for an examination before it gets worse.

Tongue Cancer

It is highly unlikely, but sometimes these dark patches on the tongue may indicate a serious condition – cancer. Black spot on the tongue may present as a sore or a scab that does not heal. Moreover, you may have bumps and swallowing issues as well with the tongue. Cancer is a serious condition that requires immediate attention, and its treatment is most effective when the disease is caught in its early stages.

Black Hairy Tongue

Black spot might not indicate trouble, but if the tongue becomes hairy, that is when it should be paid attention to. It is filled with papillae and are not noticeable, but when the dead cells pile on, they become visible. These papillae easily attract stains from your food, giving them a black hairy look. It is not fully known why the natural shedding process stops. However, some of the reasons are:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Reduction in saliva production – saliva helps flush the dead skin away; in case of low saliva, the cells start accumulating.
  • Liquid consumption – solids play their part in scraping the dead cells off; consuming only liquids hamper that from happening.
  • Medicine Side Effects – some medicines lower saliva quantity as a side effect, making it easier for the dead cells to pile up on the papillae surface. Antibiotics destroy good as well as bad bacteria and disrupt mouth balance.
  • Tobacco – both chewing and smoking tobacco is one of the biggest reasons for having a black hair-like tongue. The papillary projection is susceptible and attracts tobacco stains on it.
  • Beverages like Tea or Coffee – if your consumption is more than normal, the color change is inevitable.
  • Oxidizing Mouthwashes – certain mouthwashes have oxidizing contents such as peroxide, affecting bacterial load inside the mouth, constituting color change.
  • Bismuth subsalicylate is commonly found in most GI medicines and reacts with sulfur in the mouth and stains the tongue, making it black.

Treating Black Spot on Tongue

  • Brush your tongue along with the teeth. A soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day helps remove the dead skin cells and bacteria off the tongue easily.
  • Use a tongue scraper instead of the same toothbrush if you want. It is a designated tool and keeps the dead cells from piling up on the papillae.
  • Always brush after a meal. Dentists cannot emphasize this enough; brushing after eating anything greatly reduces the chances of bacterial buildup and consequential issues.
  • Always use mouthwash and brush after drinking beverages like tea, coffee, alcohol, etc., for stain prevention.
  • Stop using tobacco in every form. Quitting smoking has done wonders for restoring oral health especially black spot on the tongue.
  • Make flossing an integral part of your daily oral regime, do it once a day in the morning or before bedtime; this way, you will easily get rid of food debris.
  • Deep dental cleaning by a dentist,
  • Take plenty of water, keep your oral cavity hydrated. Drinking water also helps in gulping away all the dead cells.


Having black spot on the tongue is quite unsightly. The good news is that most of the time, it is harmless, and regular cleaning does the job and turns it back to normal; however, you should get it checked if the issue is persistent and does not resolve in a few days.

Get in touch with one of the dentists in San Diego, CA, at Nimmi Shine Dental for a quick check-up. Call at San Diego o for an appointment today.

Dr. Joseph Mara

Dr. Joseph Mara

For more than 19 years, Dr. Joseph Mara has been a leading dentist in San Diego, providing affordable, gentle, and honest dental care. Driven by a commitment to patient’s trust and satisfaction, he undergoes continuous education and specialized training in oral implantology and endodontics. At his practice – Nimmi Shine Dental, convenience and comfort are paramount. Utilizing advanced technology such as the Vatech PaX-i3D Scanner and Computer Guided Implant Surgery, the clinic emphasizes efficiency and overall patient well-being. Call us today at (858) 999-8550 to schedule a consultation with our expert dentist.


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