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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.
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space placeholder.What Is It?
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Glossodynia refers to a painful or burning feeling of the tongue. Glossodynia often occurs along with other conditions. They include:
  • Long-term irritations in the mouth
  • Nerve damage from tooth extractions
  • Trauma (injury)
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiencies (such as vitamin B, iron or zinc)
  • Allergies
  • Changes in hormones or the immune system
  • Tobacco use
  • Psychological conditions such as anxiety or depression
  • Infections of the mouth, caused by bacteria or fungus (thrush)
  • Anemia

Glossodynia also can be related to the use of some medicines. These include diuretics (water pills), pills for diabetes and some blood pressure medicines.

Some people with glossodynia also have changes on the tongue that you can see. These changes are called glossitis. In some people, it is not clear if the two conditions are related or if they just occur at the same time.

Glossodynia may be a sign or symptom of burning mouth syndrome (BMS). BMS is a burning feeling that can affect various areas of the mouth, not just the tongue. In this case, there are no visible changes on the tongue.

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space placeholder.Symptoms
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Symptoms are burning or pain of the tongue.

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space placeholder.Diagnosis
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Your dentist will ask you about your pain:
  • Where it is
  • How long you have had it
  • How bad the pain or burning is
  • Whether you take any medicines

The dentist also will examine your mouth for anything that might be irritating it. Examples may include:

  • Rough or broken teeth
  • Broken crowns, appliances or dentures
  • Yeast infections (thrush)

Your dentist also will look in your mouth for any ulcers or redness. Severe dry mouth can cause pain. Therefore, the dentist will examine your salivary glands to see if they produce enough good-quality saliva.

Your dentist may order tests to look for changes in the blood count, glucose (sugar) and vitamins. Tests for fungi and bacteria can also be done.

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space placeholder.Expected Duration
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Glossodynia can be acute (lasting for days or weeks). Sometimes it is chronic (lasting for longer periods of time). The length of time often depends on the cause.

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space placeholder.Prevention
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Ask your dentist to smooth any obviously sharp or broken teeth or dentures that could irritate the tongue. Otherwise, there is no way to prevent glossodynia.

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space placeholder.Treatment
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Treatment depends upon the cause. Treatments may include:

  • Removal of irritants (rough edges on fillings, crowns or dentures)
  • Construction of a soft plastic tray to correct or cover irregular areas of the teeth
  • Pain relievers applied to the area
  • Microsurgery to repair the lingual nerve, if nerve damage is a cause
  • Low doses of benzodiazepine, antidepressant or anticonvulsant drugs
  • Changes in current medicines, which may be causing the pain
  • Supplements or diet changes for nutritional deficiencies
  • Antifungal medicines
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space placeholder.When To Call a Professional
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Glossodynia can be a symptom of another condition. Contact your dentist or physician if the pain is severe or lasts longer than two or three weeks.

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space placeholder.Prognosis
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Glossodynia without a clear cause is difficult to cure. However, it is often not a threat to health. Unfortunately, the pain can interfere with daily quality of life.

Low doses of benzodiazepine, antidepressant or anticonvulsant drugs may help some people.

When glossodynia has a clear cause that can be easily treated, the prognosis is good. Examples of a clear cause include thrush, a sharp tooth or a vitamin deficiency. However, it can take months for the tongue to respond to treatment. Sometimes, glossodynia will disappear on its own over time.


© 2002-2015 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.