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Also known as melanoglossia, black tongue is a medical condition that is manifested by a discoloration of the tongue. The main symptom of this condition is the appearance of stains on the tongue, usually either a dark brown or black in color. People who experience black tongue will often manifest the side effects of bad breath along with a strong taste of metal in the mouth. In severe cases, the taste may be strong enough to cause the initiation of the sufferer’s gag reflex. Along with being caused by a bacterial infection, this condition may be triggered by allergies or even by the use of certain types of medications.
One of the more common causes of black tongue is the development of some sort of bacterial infection. The infection helps to slow the process of shedding of the tiny hairs on the tongue, resulting in the collection of materials that help to create of the black patches along the surface. Treating the underlying infection will often restore proper balance and eliminate the patches.
In some cases, black tongue may be caused by an allergic reaction to over the counter or prescription products. In certain people, mouthwashes containing certain ingredients like menthol or peroxide may trigger an adverse reaction. Some prescription medications may also cause this type of condition to develop as a side effect. By identifying products or medication that may be causing the distress and replacing them with other products, the condition will often dissipate in a short period of time.
Other factors can create an ideal environment for the development of black tongue. Poor oral hygiene, such as infrequent brushing, little to no use of mouthwash or not flossing on a regular basis can increase the chances of triggering this type of health problem. Liquid antacids may leave a residue on the tongue that helps to trigger this condition. Use of tobacco products, including cigarettes, snuff, or chewing tobacco may also lead to this type of ailment. Making changes in hygiene habits as well as avoiding the use of tobacco products will greatly enhance the possibility of avoiding the development of black tongue.
The good news is that black tongue and the associated bad breath and unpleasant taste in the mouth can be treated with relative ease. By identifying which factor or set of factors is triggering the condition and taking steps to make changes in habits, products, or medication, it is possible to bring the condition under control and cure it in short order. Working with a physician to identify the factors contributing to the development of black tongue will often expedite finding the right course of action and alleviating the discomfort sooner rather than later.