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Mouth Diseases

Tongue turning black-like coating

03/08/2006

Question:

What causes one`s tongue to turn black-like a coating? Instead of white it is black.

Answer:

This is a rather common, harmless condition that is caused by melanin pigment-producing bacteria, which are found in nearly everyone's mouth, being the main organisms living in this area. These bacteria normally live on the surface of the mouth, and they are especially numerous on the dead keratinized cells that cover the top of the tongue. Again, this is a normal, harmless condition. Using a tongue scraper may help improve the appearance of the top of the tongue.

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Response by:

Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD
Professor of Oral Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University