BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuGlossitisTongue inflammation; Tongue infection; Smooth tongue; Glossodynia; Burning tongue syndromeGlossitis is a problem in which the tongue is swollen and inflamed. This often makes the surface of the tongue appear smooth. Geographic tongue is a type of glossitis.Geographic tongueGeographic tongue is characterized by irregular patches on the surface of the tongue. This gives it a map-like appearance.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Causes Glossitis is often a symptom of other conditions, such as:Allergic reactions to oral care products, foods, or medicine Dry mouth due to Sjögren syndrome Sjögren syndromeSjögren syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which the glands that produce tears and saliva are destroyed. This causes dry mouth and dry eyes. The...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Infection from bacteria, yeast or viruses (including oral herpes) Injury (such as from burns, rough teeth, or bad-fitting dentures) Skin conditions that affect the mouth Irritants such as tobacco, alcohol, hot foods, spices, or other irritants Hormonal factors Certain vitamin deficiencies At times, glossitis may be passed down in families. Symptoms Symptoms of glossitis may come on quickly or develop over time. They include: Problems chewing, swallowing, or speaking Smooth surface of the tongue Sore, tender, or swollen tongue Pale or bright red color to the tongue Tongue swelling Rare symptoms or problems include:Blocked airway Problems speaking, chewing, or swallowing Exams and Tests Your dentist or health care provider will do an exam to look for:Finger-like bumps on the surface of the tongue (called papillae) that may be missing Swollen tongue (or patches of swelling) The provider may ask questions about your health history and lifestyle to help discover the cause of tongue inflammation.You may need blood tests to rule out other medical problems. Treatment The goal of treatment is to reduce swelling and soreness. Most people do not need to go to the hospital unless the tongue is very swollen. Treatment may include:Good oral care. Brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. Antibiotics or other medicines to treat infection. Diet changes and supplements to treat nutrition problems. Avoiding irritants (such as hot or spicy foods, alcohol, and tobacco) to ease discomfort. Outlook (Prognosis) Glossitis goes away if the cause of problem is removed or treated. When to Contact a Medical Professional Contact your provider if: Symptoms of glossitis last longer than 10 days. Tongue swelling is very bad. Breathing, speaking, chewing, or swallowing causes problems. Get emergency care right away if tongue swelling blocks the airway. Prevention Good oral care (thorough tooth brushing and flossing and regular dental checkups) may help prevent glossitis.Open ReferencesReferencesDaniels TE, Jordan RC. Diseases of the mouth and salivary glands. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 397.Pham KL, Mirowski GW. Oral diseases and oral manifestations of gastrointestinal and liver disease. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 24. AllVideoImagesTogTongue - illustration The tongue is mainly composed of muscles. It is covered with a mucous membrane. Small nodules of tissue, called papillae, cover the upper surface of the tongue. Between the papillae are the taste buds, which provide the sense of taste. In addition to taste, the tongue functions in moving food to aid chewing and swallowing, and it is important in speech.TongueillustrationTongue - illustration The tongue is mainly composed of muscles. It is covered with a mucous membrane. Small nodules of tissue, called papillae, cover the upper surface of the tongue. Between the papillae are the taste buds, which provide the sense of taste. In addition to taste, the tongue functions in moving food to aid chewing and swallowing, and it is important in speech.TongueillustrationRelated Information Acute(Special Topic)Chronic(Special Topic)Geographic tongue(Condition)Iron deficiency anemia(Condition)Pernicious anemia(Condition)Lichen planus(Condition)Erythema multiforme(Condition)Canker sore(Condition)Pemphigus vulgaris(Condition)Herpes simplex(In-Depth)Anemia(In-Depth) Review Date: 2/1/2021 Reviewed By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- © 1997- All rights reserved. A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.