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What is a geographic tongue?


Posted on 6/19/2023 by Cole Anderson, DMD, MS
What is a geographic tongue?Geographic tongue is an inflammatory condition causing lesions that keep recurring on the tongue. The tongue develops white borders, with reddish areas which are smooth. The reddish areas do not have papillae which are patches with small bumps on the tongue. The lesions that are on the tongue form a geographic map-like appearance. The lesions keep migrating from place to place on the tongue's surface. The geographic tongue is not an infection but it causes discomfort and sensitivity upon the use of some products like sweets, spices, and salt

Symptoms of geographic tongue


The emergence of a map-like pattern on the tongue is the first indication of a geographic tongue. The symptoms come and go, lasting a few years or weeks at a time. Another symptom is red patches on the tongue, which form patterns with white or grey borders. The patches can be found on all sides of the tongue, including the sides, top, and tip. The patches move around and can come and disappear, changing their shape and location over time. The absence of papillae, which are small bumps that cover the whole tongue and aid in chewing, protects it. Another symptom is a burning sensation on the tongue, which is characterized by a tingling and stinging sensation that occurs primarily during eating. A geographic tongue is indicated by patches in other areas of the mouth. Patches might appear on the gums, inside the cheeks, or the mouth.

Dental visit


If you notice that your tongue is smooth and painful and that there are spots on the tongue that appear like maps this could show that you have a geographic tongue. The geographic tongue is harmless but causes discomfort to ensure that you visit us so that the dentist will determine if you have the condition or if you might be having other problems.

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