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Why does my tongue have cracks?

Dec 27, 2023Oral health

Why does my tongue have cracks?

Lingua plicata, the medical term for cracked tongue, is a benign condition that poses no threat to one’s health neither is it communicable. Generally, it does not manifest any signs or symptoms.

It has been reported by The American Academy of Oral Medicine that approximately 5% of the population in the United States has cracked tongue, which is also known as fissured tongue.

The precise reason behind the occurrence of cracked tongue remains elusive. However, earlier studies have indicated a possible hereditary connection, indicating a possibility of familial transmission.

In 2016, a study revealed a potential correlation linking smoking to cracked tongue.

Vitamin deficiencies

Occasionally, cracked tongue can manifest as a result of malnutrition. According to a separate research conducted in 2016, there exists a correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency and cracked tongue.

In the meantime, studies conducted in 2015 have suggested that the discomfort or pain caused by a fissured tongue may potentially be related to insufficiencies in:

  • B vitamins
  • zinc
  • iron

According to the researchers, it is worth noting that inadequate dental hygiene, consumption of medication, and esophageal reflux are also probable factors associated with the pain.

Nevertheless, It is rare for individuals with a cracked tongue to consistently feel pain.

Other health issues

The presence of a cracked tongue may have potential associations with:

  • Geographic tongue is a condition that leads to the development of smooth, raised patches on the tongue.
  • Psoriasis.
  • Sjogren’s syndrome, an immune disorder.
  • Cowden syndrome is a genetic disorder that results in the development of benign tumors.
  • Acromegaly, a hormonal disorder.
  • Orofacial granulomatosis, a rare inflammatory disorder.
  • Down syndrome.
  • Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome, a rare neurological disorder.

It is possible that an individual experiencing cracked tongue and geographic tongue may attribute their pain to the latter condition, as it can result in a burning sensation and diminished ability to taste.


Symptoms of a fissured tongue

A fissured tongue exhibits noticeable cracks on the upper surface of the tongue, with some extending to the edges. Both the depth and size of these fissures may differ from one individual to another, and may or may not be interconnected.

Individuals having deep grooves on their tongue may find debris to be lodged in them. Therefore, it is advisable for them to brush the uppermost part of their tongue so that any debris trapped within can be removed. This practice can also aid in preventing instances of irritation or infection.


Treatments for Tongue Cracks

Treatments aimed at repairing tongue cracks are deemed unnecessary due to their infrequent impact on a person’s health. Hence, medical intervention is not required.

It is advised by healthcare professionals that a consistent and thorough oral hygiene routine should serve as the primary step in addressing dental concerns. The following recommendations are considered among the most effective:

  • It is essential to ensure diligent cleaning of the upper surface of your tongue by using a toothbrush to eliminate food particles from the crevices. This practice effectively prevents the occurrence of lesions that cause heightened discomfort and irritation, while also serving as a preventive measure against cavities.
  • Select a toothbrush that has received positive reviews, and is also suitable for your personal needs. Individuals may find medium and hard bristles comfortable, but others may find soft bristles more appropriate.
  • Electric toothbrushes are frequently suggested by dentists for the purpose of maintaining regular oral hygiene.
  • It is advisable to contact your dentist in order to obtain recommendations on dental care products that suit your specific needs.


Preventing Future Cracked Tongue Issues

The prevention of a cracked tongue can be achieved through the following measures:

  • Eat a balanced diet: A well-balanced diet that comprises proteins, vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts is essential for promoting good oral health. Consumption of foods rich in vitamins, zinc, and iron can significantly aid in improving your dental hygiene.
  • Practice good oral hygiene: Enhancing your oral hygiene can be achieved by dedicating time to cleaning your teeth, gums, and tongue. It is advised by dental experts to diligently brush your teeth for at least two minutes, twice every day.
  • Scrape your tongue: Preventing accumulation of small particles of food in one’s mouth is beneficial as it halts the spread of bacteria.
  • Eat cooler: It is recommended to allow meals served at high temperatures to cool down to an appropriate eating temperature before consumption.

In case you undergo tongue fissures coupled with lesions, whether painful or not, it is advisable to seek counsel from your primary care physician or dentist. Both specialists can assist in identifying the root cause, proffering a comprehensive treatment regimen, and ultimately bringing about relief.

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