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A fissured tongue is also referred to as lingua plicata and scrotal tongue. This condition is typically considered benign. This condition is characterized by at least one deep or shallow furrow or groove (fissure) on the surface on the top of the tongue. This condition is relatively common, though the etiology is unknown. Many tongue fissures require no treatment, but when they do there are a few remedies for tongue fissures that can be used.
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Symptoms of a Fissured Tongue
Many patients do not experience any symptoms with this condition. If food or other debris gets trapped with the fissures, or grooves, this condition can become painful. If this condition occurs along with geographic tongue it can be painful as well. Geographic tongue is a condition in which red, irregularly shaped, smooth, map-like patches appear on the tongue. These are swollen and in some cases they will be surrounded by a white border. This condition is often benign, as well, but it often recurs and it can last for several months and sometimes longer.
If geographic tongue is present the patient may experience irritation and burning, specifically when they consume spicy or hot foods. The discomfort may be intermittent and it may worsen during pregnancy or a woman's menstrual cycle. The lesions associated with this condition most often remain confined to the tongue, but in some cases they can be present on the lips or elsewhere in the mouth.
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Fissured Tongue Diagnosis
Doctors often diagnose this condition by clinical assessment. In far less common cases, a biopsy may be done, but is rarely necessary because this condition is typically easily diagnosed through examining the tongue. Doctors will also often assess the patient for other potential associated conditions.
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Treating a Fissured Tongue
Many patients will require no treatment. However, if they do there are a few remedies for tongue fissures that may help to alleviate their discomfort. First, patients should make sure to thoroughly brush the top of their tongue. This will help to remove any debris that may cause infection or irritation when lodged between the fissures and grooves. Gargling with mouthwash after eating can also help to dislodge debris.
If geographic tongue is also present it also often resolves on its own without any medical intervention. However, there is no cure. If patients are experiencing discomfort, they can gargle with a mouth rinse that contains anesthetic or antiseptic agents. Patients may also benefits from the occasional use of topical corticosteroids, such as triamcinolone. This comes in the form of a dental paste that can be applied directly to the affected areas of the tongue several times a day when it is needed.
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MedScape. (2008). Fissured Tongue. Retrieved on February 26, 2010 from MedScape: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1078536-overview
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Fissured Tongue: Author Unknown – Wikimedia Commons