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Doctor insights on: Geographic Tongue

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Geographic Tongue (Overview)

Geographic tongue is a relatively benign abnormality of the dorsal surface of the tongue, in which the tongue is fissured and thus appears like a geographic map--hence the name. The exact cause (s) is unknown, and treatments are symptom based as no known cure exists.


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What causes geographic tongue?

What causes geographic tongue?

Unknown: Geographic tongue is a benign condition where parts of the tongue swell and other parts become smooth, leading to a MAP like appearance. The cause is unknown.

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Geographic Tongue (Overview)

Geographic tongue is a relatively benign abnormality of the dorsal surface of the tongue, in which the tongue is fissured and thus appears like a geographic map--hence the name. The exact cause (s) is unknown, and treatments are symptom based as no known cure exists.


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If you are healthy but get a geographic tongue, does that mean you will get sick?

Not necessarily: Geographic tongue is when the tongue appears like a MAP with darker and lighter area, areas where the papillae or crypts (mountain and valleys) vary. Most of the time, it is normal, get a general checkup including baseline blood testing, particularly, a cbc.

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What is geographic tongue and what causes it?

What is geographic tongue and what causes it?

Lesions on tongue: Geographic tongue is a marvelous, descriptive name for one of the most common medical conditions of the tongue. It looks like several large, red, slightly depressed, unusually smooth patches on the surface of the tongue. Often the red areas are bordered with distinct white bands. The sharp borders of these irregularly shaped lesions give the surface of the tongue the appearance of a map.

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How do I cure geographic tongue?

Geographic tongue: Geographic tongue is benign and harmless and requires no treatment. Personally I have not had one patient in over 35 years of practice complain about it. Most are even unaware they have it. A few just want reassurance there is no concern. There are some treatments but their efficacy is uncertain. If necessary discuss this with a local Oral Surgeon or Oral Pathologist.

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How to cure geographic tongue?

How to cure geographic tongue?

Can't: There is no cure for geographic tongue. Most cases of geographic tongue (aka erythema migrans, and benign migratory glossitis) do not have any symptoms so it's not treated at all. Occasionally you will see a patient who has a burning sensation in which case the dentist can prescribe topical anti-inflammatory agents.

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How do you get rid of geographic tongue?

Steroid can help: Steroid paste can bring down some of the swelling in geographic tongue. No treatment is needed though since this is a benign condition.

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Just started getting geographic tongue, is this permanent or can it go away for periods and manifest during triggers

Just started getting geographic tongue, is this permanent or can it go away for periods and manifest during triggers

Geographic tongue: Lesions of geographic tongue fluctuate, getting better or worse, disappearing, moving locations. It is considered essentially to be psoriasis of the tongue. There are topical treatments that help improve the condition. However the condition is unpredictable so it's hard to say whether it will eventually disappear completely. Hot drinks, stress and spicy foods tend to flare geographic tongue.

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How can I prevent having a geographic tongue?

How can I prevent having a geographic tongue?

Steroid can help: Steroid paste can bring down some of the swelling in geographic tongue. No treatment is needed though since this is a benign condition.

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What are the risks of having geographic tongue? Are there any health risks involved by having geographic tongue? Should I be worried? .

What are the risks of having geographic tongue? Are there any health risks involved by having geographic tongue? Should I be worried? .

No worries: The condition is usually chronic & often occurs after eating hot/spicy foods, or during times of stress, illness, or hormonal surges (ie. In women just before menstruating). The new england journal of medicine reports a connection between celiac disease. There is no known cure or treatment for geographic tongue, avoiding foods that bring it on can help.

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What's a geographic tongue?

Anatomy: It is an anatomic variation in the surface pattern and texture of the tongue. It is considere benign and is not treated.

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How to cure geographic tongue?

Can't: There is no cure for geographic tongue. Most cases of geographic tongue (aka erythema migrans, and benign migratory glossitis) do not have any symptoms so it's not treated at all. Occasionally you will see a patient who has a burning sensation in which case the dentist can prescribe topical anti-inflammatory agents.

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What causes geographic tongue?

Unknown: Geographic tongue is a benign condition where parts of the tongue swell and other parts become smooth, leading to a MAP like appearance. The cause is unknown.

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How to cure geographic tongue?

No cure: There is no cure. Only treatment of symptoms. This is a benign lesion and quite common. Some people need to avoid certain foods that are too spicy or salty. Others may benefit from a medicated mouthwash, but in the majority of cases, no treatment at all is neccessary.

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How do I cure geographic tongue?

Geographic tongue: Geographic tongue is benign and harmless and requires no treatment. Personally I have not had one patient in over 35 years of practice complain about it. Most are even unaware they have it. A few just want reassurance there is no concern. There are some treatments but their efficacy is uncertain. If necessary discuss this with a local Oral Surgeon or Oral Pathologist.

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What can cause geographic tongue?

Normal: It's also called migratory glossitis. It has a slight female predilection. There are two types of structures on the tongue. Filliform and fungiform papillae. The former tend to wear away faster than the later. There is no worry about 1-2% of the population have it. Not a contagious condition and no treatment is necessary. That's the quick answer. Don't worry about it as there is no treatment.

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Can geographic tongue come and go?

Yes: That is why it is referred to a geographic tongue it takes on a different ' geographic ' appearance routinely as the papillae of the tongue change.

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Does geographic tongue stay forever?

Does geographic tongue stay forever?

It can: Geographic tongue is a harmless condition that does not need any treatment, so do not worry about it. It can come and go over time.

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How long does geographic tongue last?

Unknown: The good thing about geographic tongue is that it is completely harmless. Unfortunately there is no treatment for it. It will resolve spontaneously, but this may take months to years. Avoid irritating foods such as pineapple or citrus fruits.

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Mouth (Definition)

Mouth (mouth) " n. Pl. Mouths 1. A. The body opening through which an animal takes in food. B. The cavity lying at the upper end of the alimentary canal, bounded on the outside by the lips and inside by the oropharynx and containing in higher vertebrates the tongue, gums, and teeth. C. This cavity regarded as the source of sounds and speech. D. The opening to any cavity or canal ...Read more