Ask a Dentist: What is Geographic Tongue?

Dentist Chicago, IL

You are experiencing some minor irritation in your mouth — which appears to be from your tongue area but you're not sure — you need to see a dentist. You move to the nearest mirror and there, you see different red patches on your tongue, surrounded by whitish lines. You are not sure if it is a medical emergency or if it will disappear on its own.

Yes, you may need to pay the dentist a visit to be sure you are not suffering from a serious condition; however, you need to slow down a bit. What you are dealing with is probably a harmless condition known as “benign migratory glossitis,” which is popularly known as geographic tongue.

Although it may look odd, geographic tongue is not a serious issue: it is not contagious or cancerous, and generally, it does not cause more complicated health conditions. However, this condition can increase your tongue’s sensitivity and may sometimes cause mild sensations of stinging, burning or numbness.

The presence of red patches on the tongue is due to the momentary loss of structures known as papillae, the small bumps covering the tongue’s surface. The patches may show up or disappear intermittently over several days or hours and may change in shape or position.

More about geographic tongue

The cause of geographic tongue

The issue is a result of several factors, but the precise cause is yet unknown. Some of the triggers of this condition include emotional stress, psychological upset, hormonal disorders and deficiencies of zinc and vitamin B. The condition, which occurs in one to three percent of humans, is common among non-smokers, women or people with family history of the condition. It has also been linked to people who suffer from psoriasis (a skin disorder) and those with a fissured tongue.

Treating geographic tongue

Sadly, geographic tongue has no cure, but fortunately, treatment is usually not required. The condition is benign, which means it is not cancerous and causes no harm to the patient’s health. While it may be impossible to make the condition disappear permanently, you should visit the dentist to ensure an accurate diagnosis. Once the medical professional confirms that the condition is actually migratory glossitis, it will be easier to treat the discomfort resulting from flareups.

If you are currently dealing with this issue, you can alleviate the pain by avoiding foods with high acid content (such as tomatoes and citrus fruits), including hot and spicy items. Astringent substances such as alcohol and certain mouthwashes can also aggravate the condition. Usually, the dentist will recommend anesthetic mouthwashes, steroid ointments or antihistamines if the pain becomes unbearable.

In conclusion

Although geographic tongue is not a serious disease, it could cause anxiety and pain. Therefore, you should book an appointment with the dental office for an evaluation, just to be sure. An in-depth examination can ease your fears and eliminate the chances of other conditions that can cause worries. The appearance may seem bizarre, but geographic tongue is not harmful. With adequate care, the condition is simply a minor irritation that will disappear soon enough.

Request an appointment here: http://joyfuldentalcare.com or call Joyful Dental Care at (773) 786-9560 for an appointment in our Chicago office.

Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Read our Yelp reviews.

Recent Posts

General Dentist Office Tips: Steps To Treat A Toothache

Wondering if a general dentist can offer tips for treating a toothache? General dentists are a great resource to utilize when looking for ways to remedy any type of pain in the oral cavity. When looking for more information on treating pain, it can also be helpful to know what causes toothaches to begin with. According…

General Dentist Procedures For Fixing Chipped Teeth

Thinking about choosing a general dentist to fix one or more chips in the teeth? One of the reasons why people are deciding to see general dentists is because they are very versatile dental professionals. This means they can offer both general and cosmetic dental services, even as it relates to chipped teeth. Examples of procedures…

Tooth Bonding: Is This Something That General Dentists Do?

Are you thinking about choosing a general dentist to perform a cosmetic procedure that can allow you to feel more confident about the way you look when you smile? There are many different types of dental professionals you can choose from these days, which means you do have options. Many dental patients are choosing to…

Sensitive Teeth: 3 Signs It Is Time To See Your Dentist

The fact is that sensitive teeth are oftentimes painful, and the only way to treat the issue in many instances is to visit the dentist for in-office care. By fully understanding the more concerning signs indicating that a trip to the dentist office is necessary, you can get the treatment you need and prevent a…

Recent Posts

Signs To Consider Wisdom Tooth Extractions

Signs To Consider Wisdom Tooth Extractions

A wisdom tooth extraction is often necessary in order to eliminate accompanying symptoms. Many individuals experience the eruption of their wisdom teeth and never notice the signs. However, there are also a lot of cases in which the wisdom teeth present noticeable symptoms that can be used to identify eruption. Teenagers and young adults should…

A Cosmetic Dentist Discusses Dental Crown Options

A Cosmetic Dentist Discusses Dental Crown Options

Looking for a cosmetic dentist because you are in need of one or more dental crowns? Many people are choosing to see this type of dentist when they are in need of one or more cosmetic services, with crowns being one of the more common restorative options needed. According to the American Dental Association, the…