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Wednesday 25th, February, 2015

Geographic Tongue


So… if you were listening to the Radio 2 this morning you may have heard Chris Evans talking about geographic tongue on his breakfast show. A lot of you may be wondering what geographic tongue is so I thought I would give you the “Indy The Expert” view on it….

Q   What is a geographic tongue?

A   Geographic tongue is a common condition that causes a characteristic appearance, which dentists can recognise instantly. The tops of the tongue, sides and occasionally, undersurface of the tongue develop irregular, smooth red areas, which may look like the outline of a map. There are usually wavy white lines next to the red patches.

You may notice that after a few weeks or months the position of these lines and red patches change. This is why the condition is called erythema migrans in Latin, as its position changes and moves.

Q   Why does it happen?

A   For reasons as yet not understood the normal top layer of the ‘skin’ of the tongue is not shed evenly. In some parts the ‘skin’ is shed too early and so leaves a red, sore area like a scratch on the skin. Whereas in other areas the skin stays on too long and has a white appearance.

The red areas, because they are thin, can sometimes become infected.

Q   Who does it affect?

A   It affects all age groups and you may have first noticed it as a child. It is not something that you can pass on to others but it can run in families.

Q   Do I need any special tests?

A   No. Your doctor or dentist can make the diagnosis just from the appearance.

Q   How is it treated?

A   There is no treatment. Sometimes the areas can become infected in which case you can use antibiotic gels to treat it. You can buy these at the chemist or your dentist can prescribe it for you.

Geographic tongue will never cause any serious problems and if you have it then it something you will have to learn to live with it. Sometimes certain foods can trigger it and you will need to work out for yourself which foods make it worse and avoid them.

Q   I think I may have geographic tongue and I am worried. What should I do?

A   Geographic tongue is not a serious condition but if you are concerned then just book an appointment to visit your dentist.

I hope you guys found this useful. If you have questions then please feel to contact us.

Indy “not very good at tongue twisters” Singh

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