Your tongue is not just an organ that helps you eat but it is also a representation of your overall hygiene. If your tongue is not in good shape then it is because of something that is wrong with your hygiene. Black spots on the tongue of a person are one such example of poor hygiene. They are not only an indicator of your oral health but could be quite embarrassing if someone sees your tongue covered in black spots. If you want to have a good impression on everyone it is important to have good hygiene and to look well groomed. So in this article, we will talk about how to get rid of black spots at home, why you have them, and how you can prevent them in the future.

Why do you have black patches on tongue?

There are thousands of tiny little bumps covering your entire tongue known as papillae. The papillae are very tiny and unnoticeable in general but when dead cells collect on the top it starts to look longer and more evident. It also gets darker and can sometimes look like you have hair on your tongue.

When the tongue stops shedding dead skin cells then the dead cell collects on top of papillae and the dead cells are more susceptible to bacteria. When they come in contact with bacteria they turn dark.

Some possible reasons why the tongue stops shedding dead skin is

  • If you do not brush regularly you stop rinsing out the dead cells on your tongue.
  • If you aren’t producing enough saliva it can result in you having a dark tongue. It is because the saliva helps you swallow the dead skin. Hence keeping your tongue free of black spots.
  • Another reason for a black tongue is a liquid diet. Solid food scrapes off the dead cells on your tongue while you eat but if you are on a liquid diet that does not happen. That leads to a build up on your tongue.
  • Some medications have a side effect known as a dry mouth.  If there’s no constant saliva on your tongue sweeping off the dead skin it creates a build up.

Symptoms and Causes: Why are the patches black?

The dead skin is not black in and by itself. Then why does your tongue turn black due to it? If the dead skin and elongated papillae are white then what makes them look garish and black? It is because the dead skin comes in contact with bacteria. The elongated papillae turn black in the presence of bacteria. Some reasons why you have the bacteria in your mouth can be

Certain Mouthwashes

Some mouthwashes have oxidizing agents as ingredients like peroxide. These ingredients can affect the balance in your mouth and cause black spots on it.

Bismuth Subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol)

This is a very common ingredient in a lot of gastrointestinal medications. This stains your tongue when it comes in contact with the little amount of sulfur in your mouth.

Consuming Coffee and Tea

These can be a huge reason for your stained tongue. Especially if you drink them regularly. Make sure to clean your tongue thoroughly every day if you are in a habit of drinking tea or coffee.


Antibiotics have a tendency to destroy all the bacteria in your body good and bad that can ruin the balance in your body and cause stains on your tongue. It is perfectly natural and the stains should go away after you get off your medication.


Just like coffee and tea tobacco can very easily stain your tongue. It doesn’t matter if you’re smoking or chewing it. If you want to have a clean tongue try quitting.

How do you remove black patches from tongue?

A black tongue is in its essence perfectly harmless. It does not require much treatment and usually goes away in a week or two. If you go to a doctor they might suggest a retinoid medication to increase your cell turnover and that should help treat the elongated papillae. A dentist might also remove the papillae completely, if it is too stubborn, by using a carbon dioxide laser or electrodesiccation both of these methods cells simultaneously burn off and seal the papillae. Hence cutting off the elongated papillae completely. However, that is for extreme case scenarios like if you have been a chain smoker for years your papillae may take a lot of work to get rid off. Mostly you can get rid of your black tongue using much simpler methods like

Brushing your Tongue

The method is as simple as it sounds. While you are brushing your teeth simply take a few extra minutes and brush your tongue for twenty or twenty-five seconds as well. This can easily take care of your black spots and they should be gone in a week or so.

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Using a Tongue Scraper

A tongue scraper is a tool that is u shaped and is used to quite literally scraping the dead skin off of your tongue. This will take care of your elongated papillae. This will also keep them from accumulating on your tongue. Just like brushing your tongue would.

Brush after every Meal

This will keep the food debris from getting entrapped in your papillae and will help avoid bad breath as well. Nothing helps get rid of an onion breath like brushing your teeth.

Floss before you go to Sleep

Just like the last method, this will stop the food debris from building up as well. Hence keeping your tongue free of black spots.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking more water is the solution to everything including the black spots on your tongue. If you are hydrated your body produces more saliva that helps you swallow the dead skin. Plus you swallow the dead skin while drinking water as well.

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Chewing Gum

There’s gum designed specifically for people suffering from dry mouth and it should help you produce more saliva which can help you get rid of and prevent a black tongue.


A black tongue is a rather harmless condition. You can get rid of it by maintaining good oral hygiene and drinking lots of water. If the problem persists go to a dentist they should be able to help you deal with the issue.