What is fissured tongue?

January 07, 2021

What is fissured tongue?
Fissured tongue is a benign condition of having multiple grooves, pits and fissures on the top of the tongue
Fissured tongue is also known as lingua plicata and scrotal tongue

The tongue plays a vital role in the daily operations of the body. It allows people to breathe, chew, swallow, drink, and talk. It has incredible strength and stamina. People often call it the strongest muscle in the body, but it is in fact comprised of roughly eight different muscles working as a unit. And as with any part of the body, the tongue is susceptible to different ailments and conditions. One such condition is fissured tongue.


What does a healthy tongue look like?

To understand fissured tongue, it is important to know what a healthy tongue looks like. A healthy tongue is usually pink in color and flat, with the top surface covered in tiny nodules called papillae. It contains anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 taste buds.


What is fissured tongue?

Fissured tongue, also known as lingua plicata or scrotal tongue, is a benign condition characterized by furrows or grooves on the dorsal aspect (top surface) of the tongue. It is one of the most common tongue abnormalities. Fissures can be deep or shallow, single or multiple, and different shapes. Most often a primary fissure occurs in the middle of the tongue. The condition may look unnerving but is often painless. The diagnosis is generally made by clinical assessment and a biopsy is seldom necessary unless the patient is being assessed for associated conditions.


What causes fissured tongue?

The cause of fissured tongue is unknown. It is not contagious and most often people are born with it. But potentially anyone can develop the condition, particularly in later life. Most researchers believe there is a genetic factor that contributes to the condition. Men are more commonly affected than women, and the condition is more prevalent and more pronounced as people age.


What other conditions are linked to fissured tongue?

Fissured tongue may be connected to other conditions including:
• Down syndrome
• Geographic tongue
• Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome
• Orofacial granulomatosis
• Pustular psoriasis


What is the difference between fissured tongue and geographical tongue?

Fissured tongue and geographical tongue are not the same conditions, though they may show up together. It is important to not get them confused. Fissured tongue is cracks on the surface and geographical tongue is when the papillae become inflamed, forming unusual patterns. Geographical tongue is called such because the patches of inflammation often look like continents on a map.


Is there a treatment for fissured tongue?

Fissured tongue does not usually cause any pathological symptoms or require any treatment. But some complications can occur if food or debris is caught in the grooves. This can cause irritation and allow bacteria to grow. And the bacteria trapped in the grooves can often cause bad breath, minor infection, or lead to dental decay. Fissured tongue is only a concern if the patient is experiencing pain or discomfort that does not go away. And in these cases, it is important to improve oral hygiene to avoid these complications.


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