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Definition

What is fissured tongue?

A fissured tongue, also called lingua plicata, or a plicated or scrotal tongue, will have cracks, grooves and fissures. This condition is usually harmless, but should be checked by a doctor or dentist to make sure.

A fissured tongue may have:

  • Cracks, grooves or clefts appear on the top and sides of the tongue.
  • These fissures only affect the tongue.
  • Fissures on the tongue vary in depth, but they may be as deep as 6mm.
  • Grooves may connect with other grooves, separating the tongue into small lobes or sections.

Unless debris builds up in these fissures, you are unlikely to have any symptoms.

How common is fissured tongue?

Fissures may first appear during childhood. However, fissures are more common in adults. Just as wrinkles can deepen with age, fissures can also become more pronounced as you get older. If you have regular dental check-ups, your dentist will be able to identify the fissures on your tongue. This is how most fissures are found.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of fissured tongue?

A fissured tongue can make it appear as though the tongue were split in half lengthwise. Sometimes there are multiple fissures as well. Your tongue may also appear cracked. The deep groove in the tongue is usually very visible. This makes it easy for your doctors and dentists to diagnose the condition. The middle section of the tongue is most often affected, but there may also be fissures on other areas of the tongue.

You may experience another harmless tongue abnormality along with a fissured tongue, known as geographic tongue. A normal tongue is covered with tiny, pinkish-white bumps called papillae. People with geographic tongue are missing papillae in different areas of the tongue. The spots without papillae are smooth and red and often have slightly raised borders.

Neither fissured tongue nor geographic tongue is a contagious or harmful condition. However, both can cause some discomfort and increase sensitivity to certain substances.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes fissured tongue?

Researchers haven’t yet pinpointed the precise cause for fissured tongue. However, the condition is thought by many to be a variation of a normal tongue.

Fissured tongue is also associated with certain syndromes, particularly Down syndrome and Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome. Down syndrome, also called trisomy 21, is a genetic condition that can cause a variety of physical and mental impairments. Those with Down syndrome have three copies of chromosome 21 instead of two.

Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome is a neurological condition characterized by a fissured tongue, swelling of the face and upper lip, and Bell’s palsy, which is a form of facial paralysis.

Fissured tongue might also be a genetic condition, as it is often seen in higher concentrations within families.

 

Risk factors

What increases my risk for fissured tongue?

Please consult your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is fissured tongue diagnosed?

The condition is usually observed as an incidental finding on a routine dental examination and the diagnosis made by the characteristic clinical appearance of the tongue

How is fissured tongue treated?

Fissured tongue generally doesn’t require treatment. However, it’s important to maintain proper oral and dental care, such as brushing the top surface of the tongue to remove food debris and clean the tongue. Bacteria and plaque can collect in the fissures, leading to bad breath and an increased potential for tooth decay.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage fissured tongue?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with fissured tongue:

  • Keep up with your normal dental care routine, including daily brushing and flossing.
  • Visit your dentist twice each year for a professional cleaning.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

 

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: October 30, 2017 | Last Modified: October 30, 2017

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