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A fissured tongue has one or more noticeable grooves or small furrows on its top surface or sides. The fissures can be shallow or deep and mostly form near the middle of the tongue.
This common, and typically harmless, condition is also known as:
A fissured or cracked tongue typically isn’t a major health risk, nor is it contagious.
A fissured tongue occurs in about 5% of the U.S. population. Scientists believe it’s just a variation of a normal tongue.1
The exact cause of a fissured tongue is unknown. Research suggests it’s simply a variation of a normal tongue.1
People of all ages and genders can develop a fissured tongue. However, it’s more common among males.1
Fissures can also be present at birth or develop later in life. Older adults with dry mouth often have more prominent fissures.
Characteristics of a fissured tongue include:
The fissures can also vary widely in number, length, and depth.
Fissured tongue and geographic tongue often occur together and may be related.1 Geographic tongue is a harmless condition that causes raised patches on the top and sides of your tongue.
Also called benign migratory glossitis, the patches associated with a geographic tongue can look like a map and move around.
Signs and symptoms of geographic tongue include:
A fissured or cracked tongue usually doesn’t require treatment.
However, it’s essential to practice excellent oral hygiene and keep up with routine dental exams. Poor oral hygiene can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues that require treatment.
Here’s how you can tailor your oral hygiene routine to reduce the symptoms of a cracked tongue:
Dietary changes can also help, especially if your tongue feels irritated or hurts. Acidic, salty, hot, and spicy foods cause the most problems.
If vitamin deficiencies cause a cracked tongue, evaluate your diet and consider taking supplements.
A fissured tongue may be related to another underlying condition, such as:
In rare cases, a fissured tongue can be related to:
Most people receive a diagnosis of a fissured tongue during a routine dental exam. Your dentist will examine your tongue and ask about any symptoms.
Additional testing may be necessary to determine whether the fissures are related to an underlying cause.
Fissured tongue is a benign condition that’s typically asymptomatic. It’s considered a variant of normal tongue structure.
Good oral hygiene and routine dental care can help prevent symptoms and pain that may occur if food particles build up in the fissures.
Fissured tongue involves deep grooves or crevices on the top or sides of the tongue. There can be one fissure or many. Fissures are usually asymptomatic unless food debris accumulates and causes bad breath or discomfort.
Fissured tongue is also known as a scrotal or plicated tongue. It’s not the same as geographic tongue, although these common conditions often occur together.
Treatment may not be necessary. However, regular dental exams and teeth cleanings can keep oral health issues at bay.
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