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Benign Migratory Glossitis (Geographic Tongue)

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space placeholder.What Is It?.
space placeholder.Symptoms .
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space placeholder.What Is It?
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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 very 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.

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space placeholder.Symptoms
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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).

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space placeholder.Diagnosis
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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.

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space placeholder.Expected Duration
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Geographic tongue can last for months or years.

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space placeholder.Prevention
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There is no way to prevent geographic tongue.

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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.

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space placeholder.When To Call a Professional
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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.

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

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