You probably know how smoking can damage your lungs, but did you know the havoc tobacco use can wreak on your tongue? Though some effects can be relatively benign, others can lead to serious, even life-threatening, conditions.
Discolored and Hairy
If you look in the mirror and notice that your tongue is white, black, splotched, or furry, you know it is time to quit smoking. Your tongue is covered with tiny finger-like projections called papillae. If you smoke excessively, the chemicals in the tobacco will keep these papillae from shedding as they should. Instead they grow longer and longer, trapping food particles, dead cells, and bacteria between them. According to the Mayo Clinic, “hairy tongue” is usually harmless, but can lead to severe halitosis and an unsightly tongue.