Cracked tongue: what to do?

A fissured tongue results in the development of one or more furrows on the upper part of the tongue. Fissured tongue is neither contagious nor painful. Fissured tongue often causes no symptoms, although some people experience a burning sensation, especially when consuming acidic foods or drinks. If bacteria or fungi proliferate in the cracks or grooves of the tongue, an infection may develop.

Good oral hygiene, including cleaning the furrows of the tongue, is essential to prevent infections and other oral health problems, such as cavities and bad breath. In some cases, the cracks can be wide and deep, making the tongue appear to have separate sections.

A person can also have geographic tongue. Geographic tongue (in medical vocabulary: marginalized exfoliative glossitis or benign migratory glossitis) is characterized by spots on the tongue that appear on the papillae. These tiny bumps on the surface of the tongue. When a person has geographic tongue, smooth, red plaques, which often have raised edges, replace the papillae. This symptom gets its name from the fact that the tongue looks like a map.

Fissured tongue is more common in older people, although anyone can develop it. Men are also more likely than women to develop fissured tongue.

Causes of Fissured Tongue

Doctors aren’t sure what causes a fissured tongue. However, there may be a genetic link that makes some people more susceptible to developing this condition. Fissured tongue often first appears in childhood. However, this condition usually becomes more pronounced with age.

Fissured tongue may be linked to other conditions, including:

– Geographic language
– Orofacial granulomatosis
– Trisomy 21
– Pustular psoriasis
– Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome (a neurological disease associated with facial paralysis and swelling of the upper lip and face)
– Malnutrition can also cause fissures of the tongue. But it is less common.

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Fissured Tongue Treatment

A fissured tongue usually does not require treatment. Often it has no symptoms, and a person may not know they have it until a dentist discovers it during a routine checkup.

Complications of a fissured tongue usually arise when food or other debris gets stuck in the grooves. If this happens, it can cause irritation or allow bacteria to grow. Bacteria trapped in cracks can cause bad breath or promote tooth decay. In extreme cases, Candida albicans can infect very deep furrows. Anyone who develops this complication will need to be treated with a topical antifungal.

The best prevention for fissured tongue is practicing good oral hygiene, including cleaning your mouth at least twice a day and visiting the dentist regularly.

When to see a dentist

In most cases, a fissured tongue does not cause any symptoms. So a person cannot go to the dentist for this purpose. However, it is advisable to visit the dentist twice a year for routine care. People should also visit the dentist if they experience pain or discomfort in the mouth that does not go away.


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