What causes fissured tongue and how to treat it?

Symptom Database

A fissured tongue, also known as lingua plicata, is a common condition that affects the surface of the tongue. It is characterized by deep grooves or furrows on the tongue, giving it a wrinkled or fissured appearance. While this condition is generally harmless and does not cause any pain or discomfort, it can be a cause for concern for some individuals. In this article, we will explore the causes of fissured tongue, its symptoms, and the available treatment options.

Causes of Fissured Tongue

The exact cause of fissured tongue is still unknown, but several factors have been identified as potential contributors to the condition:

  • Genetics: Fissured tongue is believed to have a genetic component, as it tends to run in families. If one or both of your parents have a fissured tongue, you are more likely to develop the condition.
  • Age: Fissured tongue is more commonly observed in older adults. As we age, the tongue’s surface may change, leading to the development of fissures.
  • Environmental factors: Certain environmental factors, such as smoking or poor oral hygiene, may increase the risk of developing a fissured tongue.

Symptoms of Fissured Tongue

Fissured tongue is usually asymptomatic, meaning it does not cause any noticeable symptoms. However, some individuals may experience the following:

  • Visible grooves or furrows on the surface of the tongue
  • White or yellowish coating on the tongue
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty cleaning the tongue

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a dentist or healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.

Treatment for Fissured Tongue

Since fissured tongue is generally a benign condition, treatment is not usually necessary. However, maintaining good oral hygiene practices can help prevent complications and improve tongue health. Here are some tips:

  • Brush your tongue gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush or use a tongue scraper to remove any debris or bacteria that may accumulate in the fissures.
  • Rinse your mouth with an antimicrobial mouthwash to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist and prevent dryness.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as they can worsen tongue conditions.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for routine check-ups and professional cleanings.

If you experience any discomfort or notice any changes in your tongue, it is important to seek professional advice to rule out any underlying conditions.

Other Tongue Conditions

While fissured tongue is a common tongue condition, there are other tongue abnormalities that may require medical attention. Here are a few examples:

Geographic Tongue

Geographic tongue is a condition characterized by irregular, map-like patches on the surface of the tongue. These patches may change in shape and location over time. Although geographic tongue is generally harmless, it can cause discomfort or sensitivity to certain foods. There is no specific treatment for geographic tongue, but avoiding triggers, such as spicy or acidic foods, can help alleviate symptoms.

Oral Thrush

Oral thrush, also known as candidiasis, is a fungal infection that can affect the tongue and other parts of the mouth. It appears as white patches or lesions on the tongue and may cause discomfort or a burning sensation. Treatment for oral thrush usually involves antifungal medications prescribed by a healthcare professional.

Oral Cancer

While rare, tongue abnormalities can sometimes be a sign of oral cancer. If you notice any persistent sores, lumps, or changes in the color or texture of your tongue, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention for a proper diagnosis.

Remember, maintaining good oral hygiene and seeking professional advice when necessary are key to ensuring optimal tongue health. While most tongue conditions are harmless, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Take care of your tongue, and it will take care of you!

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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