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 Oral Care India >> Disease Information - Tongue Abnormalities
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Developmental Disturbances of the Tongue

Cleft tongue

Cleft tongue is a condition where the tongue has a cleft running right across it horizontally or vertically, although reported cases have had vertical clefts. Complete clefting is extremely rare, and occurs as a result of lack of developmental forces to push both halves of the tongue towards each other. Partial clefting presents as a deep groove in the middle of the tongue and is a common feature in the oro-facial-digital syndrome. Cleft tongue is of little importance other than causing difficulty in eating as food gets stuck in the cleft. 

Benign Migratory Glossitis

This condition is also called a Geographic Tongue due to the behavior of the lesions, which tend to "migrate" from one area of the tongue to another. The exact cause for the condition remains unknown, although it tends to occur with more intensity in cases of emotional stress. Females are twice as affected as males, but no racial differences have been observed. The lesions here are yellowish-white or deep red in color depending on the papillae that are affected. The area of the lesion loses its epithelial lining, making hot foods seem hotter. The areas of desquamation (epithelium peel-off) persist for a while, regress spontaneously, but reappear over time. Patients with this condition are usually asymptomatic and the lesions themselves are an incidental finding during routine check-up. Again there is no known treatment for the disease, but some doctors have reported moderate success with vitamins and mineral supplements.

Hairy Tongue 

This is a condition characterized by the hypertrophy of the filiform papillae of the tongue as well as desquamation of the area where this occurs. If the papillae become stained with tobacco, they appear black in color and look like hair on the tongue. The tongue could also appear yellowish-white if foodstuff is trapped within these papillae. Anemia and gastric troubles are said to have a significant bearing on the development of this condition. Antibiotics like penicillin and Aureomycin are also responsible for the staining of the papillae. Smoking remains the biggest cause for the occurrence of the condition. Sometimes, head and neck irradiation after cancer may also produce this condition. The only treatment of the condition is to keep the tongue as clean as possible by using a toothbrush.

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