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No joke, “hairy tongue” is a real thing


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Photo: Stocksy/Guille Faingold

When you stick out your tongue at the doctor’s office to say “ahhh,” chances are you’re not fretting the possibility of your MD discovering a crop of hair thriving on your taste buds. But it is a possibility, or rather, a tongue anomaly known as “hairy tongue.” And while yes, the idea of having a tiny toupee in your mouth sounds even more disgusting than finding pantry moths nesting in your quinoa, the condition is easily treatable.

“Hairy tongue can occur at any age but most commonly found in old age and most often due to poor oral hygiene habits,” explains Hany Kurdi, DDS, a Chicago-based dentist. The little bumps on your tongue are called papillae, and normally they wear down with age as you eat and brush your teeth. If you’re not practicing consistent oral hygiene though (flossing, brushing, and—maybe?—mouth facials), the papillae can grow a little patch of “fur.” And because food particles may get trapped in the overgrowth, you can also end up with a case of bad breath.

The little bumps on your tongue are called papillae, and normally they wear down with age as you eat and brush your teeth.

Now for the solution (#phew): According to Dr. Kurdi, just make sure you’re brushing and using a tongue scraper consistently. “Gently scrape the top of your tongue to peel the thin mucous layer filled with food debris and plaque. If your tongue bleeds, you’re scraping too hard. Rinse after each swipe of the tongue,” he instructs.

Once your tongue is back to its bald, pink self, you can return to your normally scheduled self-care decisions regarding where *you* want hair on your body. Because whether you want to try a new ‘do on your head or grow out other, very personal, regions, the choice of tresses should be up to you.

Speaking of A+ oral hygiene, here’s the step dentists say you can totally skip. But P.S., it’s totally not flossing

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