If you’ve suddenly spotted some black spots on your tongue, it might be concerning. This is especially true if you maintain an excellent oral hygiene routine. And while your tongue looking a certain way can be temporary, black spots on the tongue can suggest something is wrong. However, it all depends on several factors.

This post will get into how your tongue should typically look and why it can change colors. Next, we’ll look at what black spots on your tongue can mean and what you can do about it.

What Does a Normal Tongue Look Like?

Your tongue is a very powerful and flexible muscular organ. Naturally, it looks fleshy, pink, and uniform. On closer inspection, though, you’ll notice that your tongue is covered with tiny bumps all over. You’re probably familiar with these little bumps as taste buds. The medical term for these bumps is papillae, and they’re full of gustatory receptors that transmit taste signals from food to your brain. Thousands of these bumps cover the upper surface of your tongue.

While you’re eating food, the saliva that keeps the inside of your mouth moist also dissolves food particles. These food particles, during the process of chewing, can adhere to the surface of the tongue. The grooves and bumps provide a perfect surface for this to happen. For example, drinking a strong cup of coffee might stain your tongue dark brown or black. And vanilla ice cream might leave white stains on your tongue. However, this staining is normal and comes off during brushing and rinsing as part of a good oral hygiene routine. Your tongue returns to a fleshy pink color after cleaning.

What Do Black Spots on My Tongue Mean?

If there are spots on your tongue, it could be due to many reasons. Oral diseases, poor oral hygiene, or injury to the tongue can cause them. There are several conditions, though, that can cause spots to appear in your mouth, such as oral hyperpigmentation. This is characterized by colored spots on the interior surfaces of the mouth. These spots can signal the presence of a rare disorder known as Addison’s Disease or another one known as Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome.

Occasionally, black spots on the tongue can happen because of a condition known as black hairy tongue. This occurs when your papillae, which typically build up and shed every couple of days, don’t shed completely, leaving a “furry” or “hairy” looking layer on your tongue. This buildup can also be of bacteria, coffee, or tobacco, or simply due to debris accumulating due to poor oral hygiene. Fortunately, adopting a good oral hygiene routine and brushing regularly and thoroughly can clean this layer.

Sometimes, chemotherapy can cause spots on your tongue. If you notice this and are undergoing chemotherapy, it’s essential to bring it up with your medical professional.


Treating black spots on your tongue can be done by maintaining proper oral hygiene, eating a healthy, varied diet, and consulting a doctor. A qualified dentist may prescribe antifungal medication if necessary or prescription-strength rinses and kinds of toothpaste that are medicated to get rid of buildup. Therefore, it’s essential to contact your dentist with any questions.
Dynamic Dental Solutions is your premier family dentistry option in Baytown, TX. We provide exceptional dental services and care for all patients of all ages. Because of this, we’re proud to be a complete solution to all of your dental concerns. So if you have any questions about your oral health, feel free to give us a call at (281) 837-9090.

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