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Geographic tongue is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects 3 percent of the population.  Luckily those affected don’t need to worry about mountains or peninsulas in their mouth, but there are certain methods to manage your condition and control its cosmetic effects.  

So what are the symptoms to look for?  The most noticeable is the presence of discolored patches on the tongue.  The patches can vary in size, shape and color. They also move across the tongue and can last days, weeks, months or even up to a year!  Less common is a sensitivity or discomfort to hot foods, spicy foods and cigarette smoke. There may even be cracks in the surface of the tongue.  The condition is also more prevalent when one is experiencing stress, illness or hormonal changes.

A genetic link is also possible because geographic tongue tends to run in families, but the cause of geographic tongue remains largely unknown.  Yet despite the limited information available on geographic tongue, doctors do know that when the condition is present, the small bumps that form the outer layer of a person’s tongue (taste buds or papillae) are lost causing the patches to appear.  The good news is that geographic tongue is not contagious and it is not a sign of bad oral health.

If you are experiencing any issues with your tongue or have any of the symptoms discussed above, you should contact your dentist or Smiles Unlimited Dentistry, P.C., as soon as possible to receive a proper diagnosis.  Oftentimes geographic tongue will go away without medical intervention, but there are medications that can help alleviate the discomfort caused by its symptoms. At home avoiding use of tobacco products, avoiding food and drinks that cause discomfort, and cleaning your tongue with a tongue brush or scraper will also aid in managing your condition.