Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.

What is Glossitis?

Glossitis is a medical problem that consists of a smooth-looking, swollen tongue which also develops a color change, usually to a very rare dark red coloration. Glossitis is also known as “burning tongue syndrome” or “smooth tongue”.

The human tongue consists of muscles and helps an individual swallow, talk, chew and taste. The upper part or surface of a tongue consists of papillae that are tiny bumps that aid in gripping food as a person chews and includes taste buds.

This condition involves both short term as well as chronic inflammation of the tongue resulting in the destructions of the papillae. Glossitis might cause not only discomfort as well as interfere with vital everyday activities involving the mouth and tongue.

For example it can interfere with chewing, swallowing and speaking and in some cases this condition can also block the airway and therefore interfere with breathing.

Glossitis may happen alone or it may be caused by disorders, diseases as well as conditions that often lea to complications that are serious. Glossitis may be caused from inflammation, infection, trauma, allergy as well as certain disorders such as anemia.

For instance glossitis can develop from a yeast infection in the mouth, burns or other injuries of the tongue, ill-fitting dentures or some individuals might just have a susceptibility that is genetic to the condition.

Management of glossitis consists of treating the tongue inflammation and any underlying root of the glossitis. Dependent on the root cause, management might include diet change, better oral hygiene, medications as well as other therapies.

There are several cases of glossitis that can be caused by serious and even some life-threatening conditions or diseases, such as a viral or bacterial, syphilis or several types of anemia. It is vital to seek medical care that is prompt if the individual has discomfort or changes in the appearance of the tongue or other tongue and mouth symptoms.

Prompt diagnosis as well as treatment may lower the risk of any serious complications such as severe swelling of the tongue that blocks the airway interfering with breathing.

Glossitis Symptoms

Symptoms and signs of glossitis can include:

  • Mouth pain or burning that affects entire mouth
  • Oral lesions
  • Mouth ulcer
  • Tongue pain or tingling sensation
  • Redness of the tongue
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Hairy tongue – caused by taste buds being swollen
  • Tongue sores – ulcers, white patches on the tongue
  • Change in taste
  • Dry mouth sensation
  • Sore throat
  • Increased thirst
  • Loss of taste

Glossitis symptoms are variable and different individuals might have different symptoms. Any pain can occur daily or may happen only once in a week.

In certain cases the pain might wake up the individual when sleeping. Whatever the pattern of symptoms, this condition usually last for many years before a correct diagnosis is made.

Glossitis Causes

Why this problem develops is not known. There are many underlying conditions that have been associated with glossitis and they include: thrush or yeast infection; dry mouth; depression or anxiety; nutritional deficiencies such as lack of zinc, iron, pyridoxine, thiamine, riboflavin and cobalamin; dentures putting stress on gums; excessive use of toothbrush or over flossing; as well as drinking too many beverages that are acidic.

This condition can be caused by medications such as: diabetes medications; diuretics, high blood pressure medication such as ACE inhibitors.

Other causes can include: allergies, bacterial infections, candida yeast infections, nerve damage from tooth extraction, irritants such as alcohol, spices or tobacco, viral infections as well as allergic reactions to food dyes, mouthwash, and toothpaste as well as breath fresheners.

It is vital to have any continual troubles of the tongue evaluated for cancer. The earlier the better since surgical removing of a very small tumor is better than other possibilities.

Glossitis Treatment

Any treatment or management of this disorder is normally first directed at reducing the inflammation of the tongue. Additional management requires proper oral hygiene including regular brushing of the teeth as well as flossing.

Glossitis that is caused by an infection needs to be treated with antibiotics or antifungal medications.

If the condition is created by anemia caused by a deficiency of certain nutrients it will need to be treated by changing to a healthy diet that is rich in nutrients as well as in some cases vitamin and mineral supplements.

In certain cases corticosteroids such as prednisone is prescribed for reduction of inflammation. Any burning sensation normally can be managed with topical anesthetics. Or the burning can be prevented by drinking a correct amount of water to produce a good amount of saliva which often prevents the growth of bacteria in the mouth.

Glossitis Pictures

Pictures, Photos and Images of Glossitis…


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glossitis pictures

Glossitis Photos


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Glossitis Images


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