Punta Gorda, FL Dentist Discusses Hairy Tongue
Hairy Tongue is a condition that affects the surface of the tongue and causes it to take on an off-color and slightly fuzzy appearance. Although it appears very unpleasant, it is a mostly harmless condition that can easily be treated.
The top of your tongue has a slightly “rough” texture because it is covered in small bumps called papillae. Papillae are long, cone-shaped that are responsible for helping food stick to the surface of the tongue. They usually grow 1 millimeter long before shedding and being replaced by newer ones.
A hairy tongue happens when these small structures do no properly shed from the surface and causes a build up of keratin. The build up can cause bacteria and yeast to cause the tongue to take on odd discolorations.
With delayed shedding, the papillae grow longer and continue to build keratin, over time resembling small hair-like protrusions.
The condition can take on a variety of different colors. However, a darker or black color is often associated with the consumption of tobacco, coffee or teas.
How Common is It?
The condition is currently thought to affect about 13% of all people, however, it is more prevalent in certain groups. As an example, some people with drug addiction are more prone to developing hairy tongue. Age is also another factor. As you get older the chances of developing hairy tongue gradually increase.
Causes of Hairy Tongue
There are many different factors that can cause hairy tongue. Here are a few factors that can contribute to the development of the condition.
• Bad Oral Health – Having a poor dental hygiene routine can lead to the build up of yeast and bacteria that can cause hairy tongue.
• Substances – The excessive use of certain products has been linked to hairy tongue. Heavy consumption of tobacco, alcohol, coffee or tea are all considered factors.
• Dry mouth or dehydration – a lack of saliva will make you more prone to developing hairy tongue.
• Medications – Different medication will have different effects on your body. Some treatments for acid reflux are known to contribute to hairy tongue.
• Mouthwashes – Some mouthwashes that contain hydrogen peroxide have been linked to the condition.
If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment with your Punta Gorda, FL dentist, please call our office today at (941) 639-8030.