Simple Steps To Better Dental Health
space placeholder
Featuring consumer information from Columbia School of Dental & Oral Surgery
Oral Health Made Simple: Your Prescription For Knowledge
Small BoxAll About Cavities
Small BoxBrushing and Flossing
Small BoxFluoride
Small BoxMouth-Healthy Eating
Small BoxSealants
Small BoxTaking Care of Your Teeth
Small BoxTobacco
Small BoxYour Dental Visit
Small BoxMORE
Small BoxBad Breath
Small BoxCavities
Small BoxCold Sores
Small BoxDry Mouth
Small BoxImpacted Tooth
Small BoxSensitive Teeth
Small BoxTMJ
Small BoxTooth Discoloration
Small BoxMORE
Small BoxCrowns
Small BoxDentures
Small BoxFillings: The Basics
Small BoxGum Surgery
Small BoxImplants
Small BoxRoot Canal Treatment
Small BoxScaling and Root Planing
Small BoxWhitening
Small BoxMORE
Small BoxControlling Pain
Small BoxCosmetic Dentistry
Small BoxEmergencies
Small BoxFill, Repair, Replace
Small BoxKids And Teens
Small BoxOral Health and Your Body
Small BoxOrthodontics
Small BoxPeriodontics
Small BoxSeniors
Small BoxMORE
Step 1 Prevent ProblemsSimplestepsPrevent Problems
Step 2 Understand ConditionsSimplestepsUnderstand Conditions
Step 3 Explore TreatmentsSimplestepsExplore Treatments

go to Interactive Tools go to Parents' Guide go to Dental Drugs go to Ask The Dentist

Back to Conditions
New reviewed by Columbia banner
Benign Migratory Glossitis (Geographic Tongue)

space placeholder
space placeholder.What Is It?.
space placeholder.Symptoms .
space placeholder.Diagnosis .
space placeholder.Expected Duration .
space placeholder.Prevention .
space placeholder.Treatment .
space placeholder.When to Call a Professional .
space placeholder.Prognosis .
space placeholder..
space placeholder

space placeholder
space placeholder.What Is It?
space placeholder

Benign migratory glossitis is a condition that causes reddish areas on the tongue. It is found in about 2 of every 100 people. The cause is unknown.

The reddish areas may be slightly tender. They have an irregular shape and are usually surrounded by a white border. In this type of glossitis, the reddish areas can resemble a map. That's why it's also known as geographic tongue. Another name for it is erythema migrans.

Geographic tongue will disappear and reappear in different places on the tongue. The pattern may change rapidly. These quick changes occur when you lose some of the tiny, finger-like bumps, called papillae, on your tongue. This creates flat areas that can last for more than a month. Geographic tongue may also appear, rarely, on other surfaces of your mouth, such as inside the cheeks.

space placeholder
space placeholder.Symptoms
space placeholder

Symptoms include reddish, smooth patches on the tongue and a change in tongue color. Most people have no other symptoms. Some people may feel tenderness, especially when drinking alcohol or eating spicy foods. Some people feel tongue burning (glossodynia).

space placeholder
space placeholder.Diagnosis
space placeholder

Your dentist will look at the red areas in your mouth and ask you about your medical and dental history. Based upon the exam and history, your dentist can determine that you have geographic tongue. A biopsy is seldom needed.

space placeholder
space placeholder.Expected Duration
space placeholder

Geographic tongue can last for months or years.

space placeholder
space placeholder.Prevention
space placeholder

There is no way to prevent geographic tongue.

space placeholder
space placeholder.Treatment
space placeholder

Geographic tongue does not need to be treated. Soreness can be treated with an anesthetic or a steroid applied to the area. Sometimes an antifungal medicine may help.

space placeholder
space placeholder.When to Call a Professional
space placeholder

If you see red areas on your tongue, check on them regularly. If they do not heal completely or do not appear normal after two weeks, see your dentist.

space placeholder
space placeholder.Prognosis
space placeholder

Geographic tongue is a harmless condition, so it should be of little concern.

printer friendly format option iconPrinter-friendly version     
printer friendly format option iconPrinter-friendly version
Powered by Aetna Dental Plans

© 2002-2016 Aetna, Inc. All rights reserved. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician before starting a new fitness regimen. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions. External website links provided on this site are meant for convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement. These external links open in a different window.