The Geographic Tongue condition earned its name due to affected tongues looking like a aerial snapshot of a piece of land: grooves in the tongue, and irregular patches of rough and smooth areas. Medically, the condition is known as Benign Migratory Glossitis.
“Benign” means that the condition is not going to develop into anything more serious. “Migratory” means that the tongue’s appearance changes over time, particularly with the rough and smooth patches ‘moving’. “Glossitis” means ‘inflammation of the tongue’.
Geographic Tongue is a very common condition, and there is some indication that it’s prevalence is growing. It can be painful, but should not be confused with other conditions of the tongue which are generally more painful and would be treated in a different way. Geographic Tongue Remedy provides a support forum and recommends an excellent resource for treating Geographic Tongue naturally.
Three other common tongue disorders that can be confused with Geographic Tongue are:
Yeast Infection or Thrush. Usually there are raised white patches on the tongue, surrounded by red borders. This is a painful condition, often made worse by attempts to scrape off the white patches, which can result in bleeding. Thrush can be treated using anti-fungal drugs.
Oral Lichen Planus. This condition is usually localised to the inner surface of the cheeks, but can affect the surface of the tongue too. Not much is known about this condition, but it is more painful than Geographic Tongue. Oral Lichen Planus can respond well to steriod medication.
Glossopyrosis or Burning Tongue. The appearance of the tongue is generally unaffected but severe pain is experienced, especially when the tongue comes into contact with spicy or hot food, citrus, or toothpaste. Post-menopausal women are most at risk of developing this condition. Potential causes include vitamin B, folic acid, or estrogen deficiences or yeast infection.
To treat any of these conditions, firstly consult a throat doctor for a correct diagnosis. Geographic Tongue is usually best treated naturally, although topical steroids can be tried. The most successful approach is often to determine the root cause, which is commonly deficiences in vitamins and minerals, and in the efficiency of the digestive system.