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Geographic Tongue: Causes, Symptoms and Care

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Have you ever looked at your tongue in the mirror and thought you were looking at a road map of Queensland? Or maybe on another day, it looked more like Victoria. You may have a condition called geographic tongue. Don't be alarmed, though. This benign condition is not a threat to your health.

Here are some interesting facts about this disorder (also referred to as benign migratory glossitis or wandering rash of the tongue) that you should know.

Geographic Tongue: Causes and Symptoms

The exact cause of migratory glossitis is not known but according to the Victorian State Government Better Health Channel, the condition is characterised by irregular and inflamed patches on the tongue surface that often have white borders. Normally, the tongue is covered with a layer of tiny bumps that the Victorian State Government Better Health Channel says are called papillae. If for some reason any of these finger-like projections are lost, those areas of the tongue will be smooth and red with slightly raised borders. These affected areas can change in size and location daily, making the tongue look different each time you look at it.

Although geographic tongue can persist for weeks, the good news is that in most cases there is no discomfort and no treatment is necessary. For many people, it goes away but may return in the future.

Do I Need to See a Doctor for Geographic Tongue?

The Victoria State Government Better Health Channel states that the direct cause of geographic tongue is unknown, however, those who suffer may carry risk factors like infection vitamin deficiency. If your tongue is painful, easily irritated by certain foods and drinks, or has become severely swollen (interfering with eating, speaking or swallowing) see your dentist for a diagnosis.

Taking Care of Your Geographic Tongue

Visit your doctor or dentist if your tongue is especially painful. For mild tenderness issues, spicy and acidic foods are best avoided until the episode passes, says Dental Health Services Victoria.

Good oral hygiene is always recommended, this means brushing your teeth and tongue twice a day, so long as your tongue is not sensitive or sore. And don't forget to floss daily.

Risk Factors of Geographic Tongue

According to the Dental Health Services Victoria, migratory glossitis occurs in about 1-2 percent of the population and although it can occur at any age, the DHSV suggests it affects younger adults more frequently. It seems to run in families, so there may be a genetic link. People with a fissured tongue, a condition where the tongue is deeply grooved and has a wrinkled appearance, may also have a higher risk of developing this migratory glossitis, as can those who have a vitamin B deficiency or have the inflammatory skin disease, psoriasis.

Even though there are certain disorders that can often occur along with geographic tongue for example psoriasis, atopic conditions, anaemia and hormonal disturbances – there is no real proof that they play a role in causing it.

Always kep your mouth clean and stay awat from irritating foods.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.