Geographic Tongue | How Do I Know If I Have It?

Geographic Tongue

What is Geographic Tongue?
Geographic tongue is when the tongue develops irregular and smooth red patches with white lines. It gets its name due to the fact it looks like a map. But don’t panic!

This is quite a common mouth condition,  is not infectious and can never become cancerous. It can affect any age group and can run in families, but it cannot be passed on to other people.

But why does it happen? When the old surface of the tongue starts to replace itself, the top layer does not always come away evenly and therefore leaves a red, sore patch on the tongue. The patches where the skin stays on longer looks white in comparison.

Sometimes, the red patches can become infected with thrush (very common in mouths), because they are thin and vulnerable, causing them to feel sore.

Is there a cure for Geographic Tongue?
There is nothing that can make the condition worse. However you may find that consuming acidic or spicy foods and drinks may make the red patches become quite painful.

The layers of the tongue become very thin and and raw, which means the wrong foods can be harmful. Therefore, it would be a good idea to keep a diary of all the foods you eat. This helps in identifying what makes the condition sore or uncomfortable, so you can try to avoid consuming them too much.

Unfortunately, there are no know treatments for geographic tongue. Thrush treatments such as mocinazole gel are available at pharmacies and may help to ease the discomfort. It’s always best to check with your dentist or doctor first though!


Unsure about your dental health? Find your nearest Synergy Dental Clinic to book an appointment.

A version of this blog post first appeared in the Blackpool Gazette in March 2017

Geographic Tongue

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