Geographical Tongue is a dental health condition that is characterized by a map-like appearance on the tongue and is also referred to as benign migratory glossitis and erythema migrans. It is a hereditary condition that occurs in roughly 1% to 3% of the population and is more common in women than in men.
Geographical Tongue occurs when parts of the tongue are missing layers of bumps called papillae. While this condition is harmless and benign, it can make it more challenging to remove harmful bacteria from the tongue. With this condition, brushing the tongue daily to remove bacteria becomes very important. In most cases, patients with Geographical Tongue do not experience symptoms. However, approximately one in ten patients may experience mild discomfort or a burning sensation on the tongue. Often times, this is due to a sensitivity to certain substances including cigarette smoke, spicy or acidic foods or toothpaste.
The cause of Geographical Tongue is not currently understood, however, individuals with psoriasis and/or fissured tongue are more likely to have Geographical Tongue. This condition can be diagnosed by a dentist during a regular dental examination. If you are diagnosed with Geographical Tongue, your dentist can provide you with helpful information about how to clean your tongue to remove the bacteria that can get lodged in the grooves of your tongue. He or she can also closely monitor your dental health to look for any signs of periodontal (gum) disease. Your dentist may also prescribe an antimicrobial rinse to help prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria on your tongue.
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