Although black, hairy tongue can look really awful—the condition literally turns your tongue dark and furry—it really isn’t anything to worry about. It’s painless, it’s benign, and best of all, it’s temporary.
Papillae on the tongue (little projections) normally grow to a certain length and then shed. When they don’t, they give the tongue a hairy look. Debris and bacteria get stuck in the “hair” and cause black, brown, or yellow discoloration.
Black, hairy tongue is often caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth. Antibiotic use, overuse of peroxide-based products, heavy tobacco use, medications containing bismuth (such as Pepto-Bismol), poor oral hygiene, and breathing through your mouth, can all cause the condition.
No medical treatment is needed, but if you’ve got black, hairy tongue, eliminating any of the above contributing factors can certainly help to clear it up.