Black Spots on Tongue

An excellent indicator of the overall health of a person is the tongue. The condition of black bumps on the tongue, which is also known as hairy tongue or black tongue, has several different causes, such as reactions to medications, tongue piercing and even oral cancer.

These dark spots appear on the surface or underside of the tongue. For the affected person, these spots may be a cause of alarm or concern, but it is important to know that some of those conditions can be treated with home remedies, and others require further professional evaluation and treatment.

Causes and Treatments of Black Spots on Tongue

In most cases, these bumps and spots go with proper oral hygiene, there are some cases in which a physician or dentist should be consulted in order to determine the cause of the black tongue. At times, a scraping or biopsy may be necessary.

Hairy Tongue

Description: Black pots on tongue, or hairy tongue can result from alcohol consumption, a soft diet, poor oral hygiene, fungal infection, dry mouth (xerostomia) or excessive use of tobacco, by either chewing or smoking.

The growth of fungus on the surface of the tongue causes these black spots on the tongue. In the absence of hairy tongue, transient surface discoloration of the tongue and other soft tissues in the mouth can occur.

The use of certain medications, such as iron salts, bismuth subsalicylate, which is commonly known as Pepto-Bismol, some food and beverages, such as coffee, tea, licorice or smoking are some causes of transient surface discoloration.

Treatments: Discontinuing smoking and changing any implicated medications may be necessary.


Description: One of the main causes of black spots or stains on the tongue is hyper-pigmentation. Hyper-pigmentation can occur all by itself, but in most cases it is related to a genetic trait that keeps resurfacing. They can be only an aesthetic problem, but there are some cases where they are associated with a more complex and severe disease. These spots or stains are in most cases quite small and appear on either the surface or underside of the tongue.

Treatments: Try applying rosehip oil, potato juice of puree, aloe vera, lemon juice and cucumber juice to darkened skin. OTC products containing these ingredients: soy milk, hydroquinone, cucumber, calcium, kojic acid, azelaic acid, or arbutrne can slow down melanin production and remove existing melanin from the skin. A dermatologist can easily remove these spots or stains, for cosmetic reasons. Oral fibroma is what this condition is referred to as by dermatologists.

Oral Fibroma

Description: Oral fibromas present as raised tissue or a lump which is very small and smooth and the same color as the tongue, but they can also appear as dark spots if they have bled. These fibromas are rarely cancerous and can be caused from trauma, such as biting the tongue. Scar tissue can form as a result of repeated injury, over months or even years, and this can lead to a fibroma. There are no symptoms caused by fibromas, aside from the feel and appearance of them.

Treatments: Treatment of an oral fibroma is achieved only through surgical excision but this does not guarantee that it will not reappear. If it is not removed, the fibroma will continue to grow and this may lead to other oral health issues. In order to prevent occurrence or re-occurrence of fibromas, it is important to be careful not to injure or re-injure the tongue.

Oral Cancer

Description: A patient with oral cancer will usually present with small bumps or lumps that grow in the oral cavity that do not go away. In some cases, these can appear with an altered pigmentation that is sometimes seen as dark spots on either the surface or underside of the tongue.

There are other signs and symptoms of oral cancer, for example bleeding in the mouth that is unexplained, swelling, numbness that is unexplained, pain and tenderness, difficultly with swallowing, chewing or speaking, sore throat, ear pain and weight loss that is dramatic. There are several risk factors for oral cancer, such as a family history of oral cancer, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and also smokeless tobacco.

Treatments: The treatment of oral cancer, like many other cancers, is surgery to remove the cancerous growth(s), which is then followed with radiation and chemotherapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

In order to prevent oral cancer, it is important to maintain a balanced diet, have regular dental visits, avoid excessive alcohol consumption and, of course, smoking should be discontinued or never begun in the first place.

Tongue Piercing

Description: In some cases, a dark mark is left on the surface of tongue following a piercing. This occurs because the pigmentation that gives the tongue its color is lost. As the tongue pigmentation returns, the black mark(s) will disappear, but if this does not occur on its own, further treatment may be necessary. The symptoms that will accompany this are just related to appearance.

Treatments: If the spot does not go away, a dermatologist should be seen. Treatment can include medication and surgery.

Reaction to Medications

Description: The tongue can be stained black resulting from certain medications like antibiotics, medications that contain bismuth salicilate, asthma inhalers and some antidepressants.

Treatments: Normal tongue brushing should remove these stains; if not, a consultation with a physician is necessary. Prevention of occurrence or re-occurrence of this condition includes eliminating the cause.

Home Remedies for Black Spots on Tongue

1. Good Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene is essential for the overall health of the mouth and it can help to prevent and remove black bumps or spots on the tongue. Brushing the teeth, cleaning the tongue with a scraper and using mouthwash twice daily are essential for the prevention and treatment of these spots.

2. A Healthy Diet and Lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy diet, including having enough roughage, fruits and vegetables, and at least 2 liters of water per day, are essential to a healthy mouth.

3. Pineapple

Sucking on small pieces of pineapple, while keeping them near the base of the tongue, for a period of forty seconds, followed by eight minutes of chewing them should fade away the black spots when this process is done two times a day for seven to ten days. Patients with irritable bowel syndrome should not perform this process.

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