Tongue Problems (cont.)
What Causes Black Hairy Tongue?
Though incredibly disconcerting in appearance, a black, hairy tongue is typically nothing serious. The small bumps on the surface of your tongue, called papillae, grow throughout your lifetime. In some people, the papillae become excessively long, rather than being worn down by daily activities. That makes them more likely to harbor bacteria. When these bacteria grow, they may look dark or black and the overgrown papillae appear hair-like.
This condition is not particularly common and is most likely to occur in people who do not practice good dental hygiene. People who are on antibiotics or receiving chemotherapy and people with diabetes may be more likely to have a black hairy tongue.
What Causes a Sore or Bumpy Tongue?
There are many things that can make your tongue to become sore or cause painful bumps to form, including:
Trauma. Accidentally biting your tongue or scalding it on something straight out of the oven can result in a sore tongue until the damage heals. Grinding or clenching the teeth can also irritate the sides of the tongue and cause it to become painful.
Smoking. Smoking excessively can irritate your tongue and make it sore.
Canker sores. Many people will develop these mouth ulcers on the tongue at some point in their life. The cause is unknown, although they can be worse during periods of heightened stress.
Burning tongue syndrome. Some post-menopausal women develop this syndrome, which makes the tongue feel as if it has been burned.
Enlarged papillae. If one or more of your taste buds becomes inflamed or irritated, it can swell and form a painful bump on your tongue.
Certain medical conditions. Medical conditions, including diabetes and anemia, can have a sore tongue as a symptom.
Oral cancer. Though most sore tongues are nothing to worry about, you should consult a doctor if you have a lump or sore on your tongue that doesn't go away within a week or two. Many oral cancers don't hurt in the early stages, so don't assume a lack of pain means nothing is wrong.
WebMD Medical Reference
SOURCES:Last Editorial Review: 3/7/2011
University of Maryland Medical Center: "Tongue Problems."
University of Maryland Medical Center: "Oral Cancer."
American Dental Association: "Common Mouth Sores."
Familydoctor.org: "Mouth Problems."
Columbia University College of Dental Medicine: "Black hairy tongue."
Familydoctor.org: "Canker sores: What are they and what can you do about
Columbia University College of Dental Medicine: "Painful papillae of the
Alfred D. Wyatt Jr., DMD, on March 7, 2011
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