It can be somewhat alarming to find “hair” growing on your tongue. “Hairy tongue,” the term used to describe the growth of small, dark projections (filiform papillae) that give the tongue a furry appearance, develops due to defective shedding of the tongue’s covering tissue. Fortunately, this condition, which occurs in as much as 13 percent of the population, is temporary and harmless. The tongue is normally covered with conically shaped filiform papillae that are approximately one millimeter long. Due to lack of stimulation or abrasion to the top of the tongue, a buildup of keratin (protein), bacteria, yeast, and other debris can create a hair-like mesh. Good oral hygiene, including the use of a tongue scraper, helps resolve the issue.

Experiencing some unusual oral symptoms you’ve never had before or even heard of before? We recommend a professional assessment of your situation to ease your mind and correct your condition. Call us so we can send you on your way to a healthier mouth. Office hours are by appointment.

P.S. Patients with hairy tongue may complain of a gagging or tickling sensation in the soft palate (roof) of the mouth during swallowing. Bad breath or abnormal taste may also result.