A man is brushing his teeth indoors

Brown Tongue: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Published date field Last Updated:

You’re looking in a mirror and catch a glimpse of your tongue. It looks different. You stick it out, and you think, “That’s weird; why is my tongue brown?” Don’t panic. Here’s what to know and do if there is a brown coating on your tongue.

Symptoms and Causes of Brown Tongue

A healthy tongue is light pink and covered with small nodules (papillae). Typically, a healthy tongue sheds and regenerates continuously. If that doesn’t happen, bacteria and other substances become trapped. This bacteria can cause your tongue to look brown. Several things can cause this deviation in color. Brown tongue causes include smoking, drinking a lot of coffee or tea, and poor oral hygiene.

If not treated, the nodules can get larger than usual and give the tongue a hairy appearance. This issue is referred to as Black Hairy Tongue.

Treatment Options for Brown Tongue

Brown tongue is very treatable and usually something you can take care of on your own. Good oral hygiene is essential. Remember, when you brush your teeth, brush your tongue as well. Use a toothbrush designed to include a cheek and tongue cleaner. Make sure to use the scraper part of the toothbrush to slough off dead cells. If you’re a coffee drinker, drink less. If you’re a smoker, it is never too late to quit. Drink more water for increased hydration and eat a healthy diet. All of these things will help remove most of the discoloration. Additionally, you can swish with antimicrobial mouthwash or warm salt water to reduce the chance of bacterial growth.

While it may be alarming to look in your mouth and see a brown tongue, know it’s very curable. Having a good oral health routine is vital. If you’re concerned or don’t see improvement within a few days, contact your dental professional to set up an appointment after trying the treatment options mentioned.

paper airplane

Want more tips and offers sent directly to your inbox?

Sign up now

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

Mobile Top Image

Was this article helpful?

Thank you for submitting your feedback!

If you’d like a response, Contact Us.

Mobile Bottom Image