Geographic tongue is a benign tongue condition that can cause geographic-looking patches on the tongue. Doctors aren’t sure why geographic tongue occurs, but some studies have suggested that there’s a genetic link, as it’s often seen in family members. Around 1-3% of the population has flare-ups of geographic tongue.
Tongues are covered in a layer of small bumps known as papillae (you may call them ‘taste buds). In those suffering from geographic tongue, the papillae alternate between lengthening and shortening, causing red, flat areas on the tongue’s surface. The pattern on the tongue will change with each flare-up. Geographic tongue occurs most often in middle-age and is more common in women than men.
Luckily geographic tongue isn’t linked to any oral diseases or cancer. You may not even be aware that you have it until your general dentist spots it during a dental checkup and exam.
Lastly, most people do not have any pain associated with geographic tongue. However, around 10% of sufferers will experience discomfort or a burning sensation when eating acidic or spicy foods. During flare-ups, it’s a good idea to keep a mild diet so as not to irritate the tongue any further. To learn more, please contact one of our locations in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Colorado.