Geographic Tongue

Here you will find resources to help you understand dental conditions and treatment options

Our team strives to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your teeth, gums, jaw and whole body as it relates to your oral health. We understand how important educating you about your oral health and condition is to influencing positive, healthy outcomes. Therefore, we always take the time needed to be sure you understand all aspects of your oral health and any treatment recommendations at your appointment.  For those who still have lingering curiosity, we've provided this library of educational topics so you may continue to explore and educate yourself on all aspects of oral health and dentistry. Please browse the list of topics, or use this search box to quickly locate topics on our website. And please, feel free to contact us with any questions, too. We love to talk about this stuff!

Geographic Tongue.Geographic tongue is characterized by harmless lesions, or patches, that can suddenly materialize on the tongue's top surface. The condition gets its name from the physical appearance of the lesions, which resemble smooth, red islands, possibly rimmed with white. Their smoothness comes from the absence of the tiny bumps or “papillae” that normally cover the entire surface of the tongue. These variations in color and texture give the whole tongue a map-like appearance.

The pattern on the tongue can change daily as the lesions appear to move or migrate, healing in one spot only to reappear in another. That's why the medical term for this condition is benign migratory glossitis. It's scary looking, but does not compromise a person's health.

Discomfort from the condition can sometimes be relieved with over-the-counter pain relievers; mouthrinses containing anesthetics, antihistamines, or steroids; and by avoiding certain irritants such as tobacco, alcohol, and foods that are spicy, salty or acidic.

No one knows exactly what causes geographic tongue. Some factors that may play a role include vitamin B deficiency, irritation from alcohol or spicy foods, and genetics.

This condition can be diagnosed simply by examining your tongue; laboratory tests are usually not necessary. Geographic tongue normally resolves on its own, but a dental professional should be consulted if you notice any changes in your tongue's appearance.