Fissured tongue is
a benign condition affecting the top surface of the tongue. A normal tongue is
relatively flat across its length. A fissured tongue is marked by a deep,
prominent groove in the middle. There may also be small furrows or fissures
across the surface, causing the tongue to have a wrinkled appearance. There may
be one or more fissures of varying sizes and depths.
Fissured tongue occurs in approximately 5 percent of Americans. It may
be evident at birth or develop during childhood. The exact cause of fissured
tongue isn’t known. However, researchers believe it may occur as a result of an
underlying syndrome or condition, such as malnutrition, infection, or Down
syndrome. Since fissured tongue is often seen in families, the condition may
also be genetic. It is seen more often in men than in women. The frequency and
severity of fissured tongue also appears to increase with age.
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
Neither fissured tongue nor geographic tongue is a contagious
or harmful condition. However, both can cause some discomfort and increase
sensitivity to certain substances.
What Are the Causes of 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.
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.
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.
Keep up with your normal dental care routine, including daily
brushing and flossing. Visit your dentist twice each year for a professional