- Slideshow: Top Problems in Your Mouth
- Teeth Whiteners That Work
- Dental (Oral) Health Quiz
- Patient Comments: Tongue Problems - Describe Your Problems
- Patient Comments: Tongue Problems - Treatments
- Patient Comments: Tongue Problems - Infants and Children
- Patient Comments: Tongue Problems - Hairy Tongue
- Patient Comments: Tongue Problems - Oral Cancer
- Patient Comments: Tongue Problems - Leukoplakia
- Find a local Doctor in your town
- Tongue facts
- What are common tongue problems?
- What causes tongue problems?
- What are the risk factors for tongue problems?
- White tongue
- Red tongue
- Black tongue
- Increased size or tongue swelling
- Growths on the tongue
- Abnormalities of the tongue surface
- Tongue pain
- Altered sensation of the tongue
- Taste problems
- Problems with tongue movement
- What are tongue problems in infants and children?
- What are tongue problems in pregnancy?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose tongue problems?
- Are there home remedies for tongue problems?
- What are the treatments for tongue problems?
- Is it possible to prevent tongue problems?
- What is the prognosis for tongue problems?
Quick GuideDental Health: Top Problems in Your Mouth
Abnormalities of the tongue surface
Smooth areas of the tongue may be related to injury (food burn) or a nutritional deficiency of iron, folate, or vitamin B12. A smooth tongue can also result from the use of dentures.
"Geographic tongue" (or benign migratory glossitis) is the most common tongue condition. It is found in up to 14% of the U.S. population. It is a benign condition that appears as bare or smooth areas on the dorsum of the tongue. It may be one area or several areas and may even vary from time to time. It is usually painless; however, the smooth areas may have sensitivity to spicy or acidic foods for some individuals. No treatment is recommended.
Fissured tongue is the second most common tongue condition and is characterized by a deepening of normal tongue fissures and is usually associated with aging. Some medical conditions are linked to fissured tongue and include Sjögren's syndrome, psoriasis, Down syndrome, and acromegaly. No treatment is required unless food debris and bacteria get trapped and cause inflammation of the tongue. Gentle brushing should alleviate the problem.
As previously mentioned, hairy tongue is the hypergrowth of the tongue's papillae and is usually associated with white, tan, or black discoloration. Hairy tongue is the third most common tongue condition and is considered harmless. Gentle brushing or scraping of the tongue may be helpful. No other treatment is necessary.
Median rhomboid glossitis is a lesion at the midline of the dorsum of the tongue. It usually looks like a smooth, red, shiny, and sharply defined area. The underlying cause is usually a fungal infection. Treatment options include topical oral antifungal agents such as nystatin (Mycostatin) or fluconazole (Diflucan).