How to Tame a Hairy Tongue

Is the hair in your mouth growing? Don’t worry, Kyrene Family Dentistry is here to explain the oral condition.

In a previous blog post, we discussed what a hairy tongue is, how it happens, and why it has distinct coloration ranging from white, gray, pink, brown, and the infamous black hairy tongue. Today, we will learn about its uncomfortable symptoms, the treatment options, as well as when to see a doctor.

Can hairy tongue lead to complications?

Like how hairy tongue is in no way a life-threatening condition, it is also almost always painless. Hairy tongue is often temporary and does not lead to more severe health problems. However, there are uncomfortable symptoms associated with the condition, which include:


  • Burning on the tongue: The excessive growth of bacteria or fungi may cause a burning or stinging sensation.
  • Bad breath: The presence of overabundant bacteria or yeast in the filiform papillae may emit an unpleasant smell. Although the usual line of action is to rinse with mouthwash, it may actually worsen the smell and further discolor the tongue.
  • Bland taste: The elongated filiform papillae and attached bacteria can cover the taste buds and alter the way food tastes.
  • Gagging or tickling sensation: Since abnormal filiform papillae may reach a length of 18 mm, the hair-like cells can touch the roof of your mouth and leave a tickling feeling. It may even tickle the back of your throat whenever you swallow, and if you are extra sensitive, you may experience gagging.

How do I treat hairy tongue?

The following are the most common and proactive solutions to treating hairy tongue:

  • Practice good oral hygiene: A mouth overwhelmed by bacteria or fungi emphasizes poor oral hygiene practices. To reduce the unwanted growth of unicellular microorganisms in the mouth, make it a stern habit to practice proper teeth brushing after every meal, and to floss at least once a day.
  • Stop bad habits: One of the leading causes of hairy tongue is excessive exposure to tobacco and alcohol. Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can lead to hairy tongue, so make sure to cut back or stop these habits altogether to restore a healthy mouth.
  • Discontinue use of unnecessary medication: There are instances when the cessation of drug intake can reduce and later cure the prevalence of hairy tongue. If the drug you are taking is for a health condition, ask your doctor for alternatives or if you can stop using the medicine suspected to cause hairy tongue.
  • Consider your drink choices: No other drink hydrates your entire body like water. With that said, avoid drinking dark-colored liquids like soda, coffee, and black tea which can dye the filiform papillae on your tongue.

For more aggressive treatments, prescription antifungal medicines and over-the-counter antiseptic mouthwash may prove more effective.

What if none of the proactive treatments work?

In most cases, the treatments mentioned above should soothe your symptoms, but if you see no sign of growth reduction, schedule an appointment with Kyrene Family Dentistry. We can assist in verifying a hairy tongue diagnosis by examining your mouth and scrutinizing your medical history. Call us today at 480-705-9005 to discuss your treatment options and strategize on how to eliminate the condition.