Geographic Tongue

Geographic tongue refers to a condition that causes a patchy, bordered-like appearance on the surface of the tongue. The tongue is covered in small raised bumps called papillae, but because the papillae is missing in the patchy areas, the tongue appears smooth. Although the appearance of the tongue can be alarming, geographic tongue is no cause for concern. In order to rule out other more sinister oral health conditions, it is best to make an appointment with your dentist for an exam. Symptoms If you are experiencing some of the following symptoms, you may have geographic tongue:
  • Changes in the size, shape, and location of patches
  • Bordered, smooth patch-like appearance on the tongue
  • Sensitivity or pain when eating spicy or acidic foods
  • Patches that seem to heal, only to come back after some time
  • Anxiety and low self-esteem related to the tongue’s appearance
While the symptoms of geographic tongue can be a nuisance, it’s important to note that the condition has no link to oral cancer or oral inflections. Causes The cause of this condition is unknown, although some studies have shown a possible link between psoriasis (a painful skin condition) and geographic tongue. Certain factors may play into its development, including family members who have been affected and the presence of psoriasis and/or lichen planus (an inflammatory condition that affects skin, hair, nails and mucous membranes). Treatment Treatment for geographic tongue generally involves relieving painful symptoms, but the condition may or may not reappear in the future. To treat irritating symptoms, try the following remedies:
  • Quit using tobacco products, if applicable
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Take an over-the-counter pain medication
  • Ask about prescription corticosteroid and antihistamine rinses
  • Avoid spicy and acidic foods/drinks
Lesions on the tongue can last days, weeks, and sometimes months. Doctors and researchers have yet to pinpoint a permanent cure for the condition, besides treating the symptoms. If you are concerned with your oral health and believe you may have geographic tongue, it is best to visit your dentist for an accurate diagnosis and plan of care. Advanced DDS is a premiere dental practice in Garden City, NY where our team of dentists provide compassionate dental care using the latest technology. Schedule your dental appointment at 516-825-1100.

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