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Fissured Tongue

If you have fissures in your tongue, it's likely no cause for concern. In fact, certain types of grooves or cracks are considered simply a variation of a normal tongue. Sometimes called a plicated or scrotal tongue, this condition is often harmless. However, it's rarely a good idea to diagnose yourself. So, if you have any concerns, set your mind at ease by discussing this with your doctor or oral specialist.

Characteristics of Fissured Tongue

These are the characteristics of a fissured tongue:

  • Cracks, grooves, or clefts appear on the top and sides of the tongue.
  • These fissures only affect your tongue.
  • Fissures on the tongue vary in depth, but they may be as deep as 6 millimeters.
  • 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.

Fissures may first appear during childhood. However, fissures are more common in adults. And, just as wrinkles can deepen with age, fissures can also become more pronounced as you get older. If you have regular dental exams, your dentist has no doubt spotted the fissures on your tongue. This is how most fissures are found.

Conditions Associated With Fissured Tongue

About 2% to 5% of the U.S. population has a fissured tongue. A fissured tongue may affect men slightly more often than women.

Because a fissured tongue can cluster in families, it may be genetically inherited. Although other causes of fissured tongue are unknown, it may appear along with other conditions such as these:

  • Geographic tongue, also known as benign migratory glossitis (BMG). This benign condition often shows up along with fissured tongue. It may cause no symptoms other than sensitivity to hot and spicy foods.
  • Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome. This is a rare condition. It not only causes a fissured tongue, but also lip or facial swelling and paralysis in the face (Bell's palsy) that may come and go.
  • Down syndrome. Fissured tongue occurs in as many as eight out of 10 children with the chromosomal disorder Down syndrome.

It is not common to need a biopsy of a fissured tongue.

Treatment of Fissured Tongue

If a fissured tongue causes any symptoms, your dentist may encourage you to brush your tongue. This may help remove debris that has built up in deep fissures, causing irritation.

In almost all cases, though, no treatment is needed. However, if you have symptoms or any complications of Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome, your dentist or doctor may recommend that you see a specialist.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Steve Drescher, DDS on June 20, 2012
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Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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