Our tongue has many functions. For instance, it allows us to speak clearly and taste our meals. Therefore, it can be alarming to see patches on your tongue. While it is usually harmless, a black spot on the tongue can signify severe conditions too. Depending on your medical history and the spot, you can figure out what the dark mark on your tongue really means.
Your Tongue’s Natural Appearance
Our tongue has taste buds, which send signals to the brain regarding the flavor of what we eat and drink. The taste buds are visible to the naked eyes and take a dark appearance when something like red wine or coffee stains them. Thus, a dark or black spot on the tongue can be a stained taste bud. If so, this discoloration will fade off soon.
What Causes Black Spot on the Tongue?
Dark patches on the tongue are not only a result of something you had. Poor oral health, injury, disease, or other conditions can also cause black spots on the tongue. Other reasons this happens include:
1. Oral Hyperpigmentation
Pigmentation gives your skin, eyes, and hair their color. However, excessive concentrations of pigmentation can result in blue, brown, purple, grey, or black spots. These harmless spots might show up on your tongue, but they will clear up in a few days.
2. Tongue Injury or Oral Piercings
Tongue injuries can also be responsible for the black spot on your tongue. Injuries occur when you bite, cut, or wound your tongue. Oral piercings also cause black patches on your tongue. Hence, oral injury or piercing might be why your tongue has been looking a little black lately. Consult your oral care provider to treat the mark.
3. Chemical Exposure
If you have been taking medications to treat your upset stomach, it can explain why there is a black spot on your tongue. These medications usually contain chemical bismuth, an ingredient that reacts with the acid on the tongue’s surface and causes discoloration. Initially, you will notice discolored patches that change into a black tongue. Your tongue will return to its usual pinkish color once you stop taking these medications.
To summarize, exposure to certain chemicals can cause color changes on your tongue.
4. Tongue Cancer
Although it is rare, black patches can indicate tongue cancer. You might also notice persistent sores on your tongue that refuse to heal. Moreover, lumps, swelling, and trouble while swallowing will also occur if you have tongue cancer.
You should inform your healthcare provider immediately if you suspect tongue cancer.
What is The Treatment for a Black Spot on the Tongue?
First and foremost, you should prioritize your oral hygiene. Make it a part of your oral care routine to brush your tongue along with your teeth. Usually, the spots disappear after brushing and do not require further treatment. If the spots are still present, visit your dentist to determine the cause and treat it accordingly.
What is The Takeaway?
A black spot on your tongue usually occurs due to staining from what you consume, like red wine and coffee. Other than this, they might result from injury, piercing, and chemical exposure. In rare cases, dark spots can be a symptom of tongue cancer.