Dark Spots on the Tongue - Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Last Updated On :
  • 18/07/2023

Your tongue is a crucial indicator of your health. Usually, the tongue has several small spots for sensation and taste. Patches, spots, and decolouration of the tongue can be harmless in most cases. However, you may notice a spot of unusual colour that may cause irritation. Such spots can be a cause for worry. Therefore, it is best not to ignore them as they can be signs of a severe underlying condition.

Visit a doctor if you find noticeable marks or even tiny dots on your tongue. A medical insurance plan can cover your medical bills without stress. Ensure you get a health insurance plan with sufficient coverage for your family and yourself to support you in such testing times.

Natural Appearance of the Tongue

Even if you notice dark spots on the tongue suddenly one day, they may still be a natural part of the tongue. Taste buds are present on a movable muscle on your tongue. When you chew and move around food in your mouth, the taste buds send signals to your brain about the flavour of the food. Taste buds are easily visible and may appear dark when consuming things like red wine or coffee. Such spots are harmless and would disappear in a while. However, if the spots are not because of the food you consume, there could be a serious reason behind it.

Why Black Spots on Tongue

If a black spot on the tongue causes irritation, itch, or pain, it can indicate a health issue. Here are the reasons for black spots on the tongue:

- Tongue piercing and injury: Oral piercing results in melanin loss and can leave dark spots or patches on the tongue. If the tongue is injured, these spots may be painful. Such spots indicate damage to your tongue and may be persistent. If the dark spot or sore lingers for a long time, it could get infected. In such cases, go to a doctor.

- Tongue cancer: Sometimes, the dark spots on the tongue can indicate a serious disease like cancer. The dark spots, in this case, could look like wounds or scabs. Lumps, swelling, and difficulty in swallowing are also symptoms of cancer. If any of these symptoms surface, it is best to visit a doctor immediately and get timely treatment.

- Chemical exposure: Acids on the tongue’s surface may react with certain chemicals to leave black marks. For example, bismuth, a chemical present in some medicines, can leave dark patches on the tongue or turn it entirely black. When the person stops taking medicine, the tongue returns to its natural colour after some time.

- Cracked tooth: A cracked tooth can leave cuts on the tongue, which may appear black with time. Such cuts may also get infected and or look discoloured.

- Hairy tongue: Dark spots on the tongue may look like tongue hair. Such a condition is called a black hairy tongue. Dead skin cells that fail to shed completely cause this condition. Additionally, a decrease in saliva, poor oral hygiene, use of tobacco, oxidising mouthwashes, certain beverages, and medicines can also cause a black hairy tongue. Good oral hygiene can help prevent this condition. If the need arises, visit a doctor to get it removed.

- Leukoplakia: This condition leaves white spots on the tongue. Repetitive injury to the tongue because of dentures and excessive consumption of cigarettes, alcohol, or tobacco can cause this condition. While these patches are usually harmless, they may contain cancerous cells. Seek medical help if you notice such stops on your tongue.

- Sedentary lifestyle: No consumption of healthy foods and a sedentary lifestyle can also give you black spots on the tongue. Drink enough water, consume fresh food and fruits, and maintain an active lifestyle to avoid it.

Symptoms of Dark Spots on the Tongue

A dark tongue does not necessarily mean that the tongue should turn black. It also means the tongue gets discoloured or has white, yellow, red, or brown patches. Loss of melanin is the main cause behind such spots. They usually disappear after a while. If they don’t, they may need medical attention. Some common symptoms of dark spots on the tongue are:

  • Nausea

  • Tickling feeling

  • Burning sensation

  • Bad breath

  • Sensation of tickling

  • Sensation of gagging

  • Sensation of burning

  • Changes in food flavours

Additionally, there may be a few more symptoms and signs that indicate black spots on the tongue:

  • Difficulty in swallowing

  • Pain the ear

  • A lump in the throat or neck

  • Pain on the tongue

How to Identify Dark Spots on Tongue

Dark spots and patches that last for more than a few weeks may require medical help. A doctor can diagnose black spots on the tongue through a physical examination. He may suggest a few tests, like scraping of fungi or a swab for bacterial culture in some cases. Always inform your doctor about every sign you see or feel, like pain or lumps. Suppose there is a family history of cancer, or if the patient is addicted to alcohol, tobacco, or smoking, the doctor should be notified.

How to Remove Black Spots on Tongue

  • The black spots on the tongue treatment begin with good oral hygiene. Make sure you clean your tongue with a toothbrush or a tongue scraper every time you brush your teeth. It will free your tongue from leftover food particles and bacteria.

  • If possible, avoid the consumption of substances, beverages, and medicines that cause dark patches on the tongue.

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle and consume fresh, home-cooked meals over preserved or junk food.

  • Avoid using mouthwashes with peroxide if you see dark spots on your tongue.

  • If the spots persist even after taking these measures, the doctor may prescribe an antifungal or retinoid. In extreme cases, the patient may require laser surgery.

Ways to Prevent Dark Spots on Tongue

It may be tough to prevent dark spots completely. However, you can lower the risk by doing the following:

  • Not chewing tobacco or smoking cigarettes

  • Reducing alcohol consumption

  • Getting regular dental checkups

  • Visiting a doctor for any of the symptoms mentioned above

The most convenient way to avoid black spots on the tongue is by having a good oral hygiene routine: Here’s how you can do it:

  • Brush two times a day and rinse your mouth with water after every meal.

  • Use a Toothbrush or tongue scraper to keep your tongue bacteria-free.

  • Rinse your mouth with mouthwash after drinking tea or coffee.

  • Drink ample water as it removes the dead cells from your tongue.

  • Floss daily.


Dark spots on the tongue can be cured with good oral hygiene practices. Usually, they disappear on their own with time. However, if they persist beyond a few weeks or there are other symptoms like pain or lumps, consult a doctor. Buy health insurance online to meet your medical expenses without any worry. With Tata AIG medical insurance plans, you can enjoy multiple benefits of health insurance, like global coverage, maternity coverage, OPD coverage, and more.

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