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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

Are Black Taste Buds Normal?

03/02/2009

Question:

The taste buds on the tip of my tongue are completely black on one side, and the other half are the normal reddish colour. No matter how hard I brush my tongue, or scrap with a tongue scrapper the darkness does not seem to match the other half of my tongue, the reddish side, or fade away. I am very insecure about this, when it comes to speaking especially as it is very unpleasing to look at. Why wont it go away? Also my mother has the same darkness on the tip of her tongue as well, and again only on one half of the tongue. Is it genetics? Is it a symptom for underlying problems? I have heard the tip of the tongue is associated with the health of the heart.

Answer:

If you are a person of color (such as African American), the dark appearance of the "taste buds" is undoubtedly normal and represents melanin pigmentation.

Melanin is a normal pigment that gives color to the skin and tissues that line the mouth. To my knowledge, the tip of the tongue has nothing to do with the health of the heart.

If you still have concerns, you might want to make an appointment to see an oral pathologist for further evaluation.

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Response by:

Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD
Professor of Oral Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University