Why Do I Have a Black Tongue?

It is pretty scary to wake up and see a black coating on your tongue!  When you Google “black tongue” it occurs mainly with smokers or when there is blood present.  But you don’t smoke so…. Yikes!  Could you have internal bleeding somewhere?  What could it be??

Well, if you’re one of the thousands of people who take PeptoBismol for an upset tummy, you can take a deep breath!   Everyone has sulfur-producing bacteria on their tongues.  When the bismuth molecules in the PeptoBismol combine with the sulfur molecules on your tongue, a harmless black substance called bismuth sulfide forms–thus the black tongue.  When you stop taking the PeptoBismol, the staining goes away.  Phew!

If you have a dark tongue and have not been taking PeptoBismol, then please check in with your doctor.  Certain antibiotics can darken the tongue but there are also some medical issues that may need to be investigated.