Geographic tongue

geographic tongue

What causes geographic tongue?
Who has a geographic tongue?

Are there any problems with having a geographic tongue?

(Is it the road map to your stomach?)
We don't know what it is, we don't know why it happens and we don't need to treat it.

What causes geographic tongue?
With Geographic tongue some of the muscle fibres that cover the tongue are missing in the red areas and are overgrown in the grey/white borders. It tends to heal and then recur. This gives rise to the appearance of a map changing on the tongue eg hence the name migratory glossitis. It may last for months or never really disappear.

Who has a geographic tongue?

  • About 1 to 4 % of the population has geographic tongue.
  • It tends to run in families.
  • More common in males and in adults.
  • It is more common in people who have psoriasis, however if you have a geographic tongue and not psoriasis you probably wont develop it. It is also more common in people with allergies and eczema.


Are there any problems with having a geographic tongue?
Usually a geographic tongue is painless. If you have a painful tongue you should consult the dentist or doctor. It is possible to get a similar appearance with a Candida infection but this is usually quick in occurring and painful.
Stress is believed to trigger a geographic tongue. Other trigger factors may be alcohol, tobacco, spicy foods, and citrus fruits.

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Camberwell Dental Group

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Dr Erik Magee BDSc (Melb)
Dr Stephen Liew BDSc (Mel), FPFA, FADI, MAICD
Dr Sue King BDSc (Melb)
Dr Lin Liang BDSc (Hons Melb)
Dr Edward Ounapuu BDSc (Adel)
Dr Yasmin Ardebili BDS (Honours), Masters in Implantology (Distinction) (University of Manchester)
Dr Marjan Ardebili BDS (Manchester,UK), MFDS (RCS Ed)
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