Oral Pathology: What is Geographic Tongue?

Oral Pathology: What is Geographic Tongue?

Oct 16, 2013

When you hear the term geographic tongue (GT), you may envision a map instead of a condition affecting your mouth. The irregular patches, red lesions, and white spots on the tongue actually do cause the tongue to resemble a map, which is where the name comes from.

In addition, patches appear on different places on the tongue’s surface, appearing to move from one area to another. The reason why the patches seem to be moving is that the papillae on the tongue become worn away. What is underneath is smooth, dark, and very sensitive. Many people with GT have soreness and burning.

If you have symptoms of GT, it is helpful to avoid certain substances. Spicy or acidic foods can increase your discomfort. Toothpaste with additives or whitening agents can also be uncomfortable. It’s best to avoid tobacco as well.

GT affects 1-3% of the population and more women than men. It can affect people of any age. You may be prescribed one or more of the following to treat your discomfort:

  • Zinc supplements
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Mouth rinses containing anesthetic
  • Corticosteroids

See your dentist for a diagnosis. Often symptoms of GT go away over time. While GT can be a very uncomfortable disorder, your dentist can help you treat your symptoms and find relief.

Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Geographic_tongue_%28cropped%29.jpg

Original Source: https://www.craigarmstrongdds.com/cleanings-and-prevention/oral-pathology-geographic-tongue


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