Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Black teeth and hairy tongue

‘Pissed, are you?’

This was my alleged best friend, Johann, enquiring as to my state of mind after he arrived a few evenings ago and I had had one – one! – glass of red wine.

‘No, actually, I’m not,’ I said waspishly. I mean, really.

‘Your vocal chords say no, your teeth say yes,’ he said.

It’s too terribly irksome not to be able to drink in secret (never mind in public) without immediately having your betraying body scream the fact to all and sundry if red wine is your tipple of choice. Why my teeth, lips and tongue suck up red wine like sponges is anyone’s guess. I tell anyone who asks (and lots of people do – black teeth aren’t something that can easily be ignored in up-close-and-personal conversation) that it’s because I was overly concerned with dental hygiene in my youth and had my enamel ferociously scraped too often by a super-enthusiastic dentist – but then how does that explain why my lips and tongue go black too? I’ve never had them deep-cleaned.

I Googled ‘black teeth’ (and ‘purple teeth’ too, because apparently some sufferers of this affliction prefer to labour under the illusion that their teeth turn a comparatively attractive shade of dark mauve rather than just plain ole nasteh black) and found nothing of use. Some people say it’s the tannins in red wine that do it – but then why do I drink one glass and immediately resemble The Creature From The Black Lagoon, while my housemate Dean and one of my two sisters can polish off a couple of bottles and still proudly display a full set of sparkly-white choppers? (The Indestructible Wife, incidentally, also has Black Teeth Syndrome, and I love her for it.)

Having a black tongue is just scary – and its alternative name, ‘hairy tongue’, is enough to make anyone put a cork in the red-wine bottle for good. I have caused early-morning pandemonium in my house before when I’ve wandered into the bathroom after a night of revelry, stuck my tongue out at myself in the mirror, and let out a terrified scream. Don’t bodily parts turn black just before they fall off?

I found an interesting entry here that put one person’s black tongue down to rinsing with a clove-based mouthwash. (Stranger things have happened, I suppose.)

And it can’t be genetic – because if it were, the three sisters you see in the pic at left, smiling closed-lipped at the camera, would surely all suffer from the same condition? But no: in the 'black teeth' edition (below, taken especially to illustrate this point - if you're feeling particularly strong, you can click on the pic for an up-close-and-personal squiz), I (on the left) have it spectacularly badly - even in the non-toothy pic you can see a tell-tale dark stain along my lips; my baby sister (on the right) suffers it in a modest way; and our middle sister (in, as it happens, the middle of the pic) doesn’t have it at all. It just doesn’t seem fair.

Do your teeth turn black when you drink red wine? Do you have any theories as to why they do and your partner’s (or friend’s or brother’s) don’t? What do you tell people when you’re talking to them and they point and say, ‘Um, I think you’ve got something stuck in your teeth… all your teeth?’

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1 comment:

Juno said...

Oh Mur, you make me laugh. No, my teeth don't turn black, but that's because white wine is my poison, doll.