Geographic Tongue pictures, symptoms, causes, treatment and cure are included in this article. It is less common in children compared to adults
What is a Geographic tongue ?
It is a condition in which the surface of the tongue takes on a map-like appearance. Affected individuals develop smooth reddish patches on the sides and tongue surface. These patches seem to move to another area of the tongue once the previous lesions have healed. The appearance of these patches is overwhelming for many, but the condition is neither serious nor dangerous.
Geographic tongue treatment seeks to manage the condition as well as resolve some minor cosmetic issues associated with it. There is no way to prevent the condition from arising especially for those with relatives who suffer from the same problem. However, taking preventive measures can help in reducing the odds of developing the condition and other tongue-related concerns in the future.
Geographic Tongue Causes
Normally, the tongue is covered with small pinkish and white bumps called papillae. In the case of geographic tongue, some of these papillae are missing, thus, causing the tongue surface to have red patches with slightly raised white borders. This renders a map-like appearance on the tongue from which the condition’s name is based. The missing papillae, which may last for a month or more, expose the surface of the tongue. The wound often clears up and move to a different place, which is the reason why it is also referred to as migratory glossitis.
Most sufferers are unaware of the condition until a dental checkup or an oral exam is done. The condition is not yet fully understood by experts and scientists are still trying to figure out its root cause. Aside from hereditary factors, the condition has been thought to occur due to sensitivity some substances present in toothpastes, cigarettes and acidic foods.
Statistics of Geographic Tongue – How common is it ?
The condition is estimated to affect about 2% to 3% of the population. It is relatively rare and occurs more frequently in females than in males, as well as in adults more than children. Studies showed that several factors increase the odds of an individual developing the condition, and these are:
- Tongue fissures
- Hypersensitivities and allergies
- Certain skin disorders
- Oral contraceptives
- Psychological disorders
The condition has not been found to cause serious or chronic health problems. However, it has a huge impact on the social and psychological well-being of the person. The patient can become anxious by the appearance of the tongue as well as the discomfort and occasional burning sensation it brings.
Symptoms of Geographic Tongue
Many individuals are completely unaware of the condition even if they have experienced some of its manifestations, including:
- Tongue sensitivity especially after consuming acidic, hot and spicy foods.
- Smooth and irregularly-shaped red patches on the tongue.
- Rapidly changing location of the patches within hours or days.
- Burning sensation could on the tongue.
The emergence of map-like patches on the tongue could be a frightening sight but it is considered a minor health issue. Still, the condition could appear along with other serious diseases or tongue problems. The following conditions are indicators that the victim should be brought to the doctor immediately:
- Tongue lesions lasting over 10 days despite treatment
- Breathing difficulties
- Severely inflamed tongue
- Difficulties in swallowing, speaking and chewing
Geographic Tongue Treatment and Cure
The condition has caused great concern among affected individuals thus prompting them to seek medical help. A consultation with the doctor could eliminate the worries. Diagnosis primarily involves examining the tongue physically and looking for the associated symptoms as well as indications of infections. The doctor may request other tests if he or she suspects an underlying serious medical problem.
Treatment will help a lot in relieving the discomfort experienced by the patient. Yet, many do not seek treatment for the condition as it often clears up with time. Those who have severe symptoms will benefit from various treatment remedies and preventive measures.
The doctor may recommend the following to help manage the symptoms:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines or gel
- Pain relievers
- Anesthetic mouth washes or rinses
- Zinc supplementation
- Corticosteroid gel
The following steps could be done to reduce the odds of suffering from it in the future.
- Chewing or sucking mint gum to relieve the burning sensation.
- Avoiding or limiting foods that trigger the condition, such as spicy foods, citrus fruits, eggplant, tomatoes and walnuts.
- Eating vitamin-rich foods to prevent the condition from developing.
- Limiting or avoiding the use of toothpaste that contains harsh ingredients that could trigger the map-like patches to develop. Among these are toothpastes with whitening agents, additives or are heavily flavored.
- Smoking has been found to further aggravate the lesions and should be avoided.
- Drinking lots of water is effective in detoxification as well as in preventing future bouts of geographic tongue.
Geographic Tongue Pictures