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Scrotal Tongue

What Is It?
Expected Duration
When To Call a Professional

What Is It?

When grooves develop in the tongue, the condition is called scrotal tongue. It makes the tongue look wrinkled. Scrotal tongue has other names, too. It also is called furrowed tongue, lingua fissurata, lingua plicata, lingua scrotalis, plicated tongue or grooved tongue.

The tongue can have many grooves or a single groove down the middle with others branching off from it. Scrotal tongue affects 2% to 5% of the population of the United States. Rates in other countries vary. However, one study reported that the condition is found in up to 21% of people worldwide.

People usually are born with this condition, but may not notice it right away. It gets more noticeable as you age.

Sometimes, scrotal tongue occurs as a result of infection or poor nutrition. It also is seen in people with certain health conditions. These include:

  • Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome — This neurological disorder also includes facial nerve palsy and swelling of the face, especially the lips.
  • Down syndrome
  • Benign migratory glossitis, or geographic tongue — People with this condition have patches of smooth or bald tongue along with rougher areas where the taste buds are normal.

Scrotal tongue is a harmless condition. It usually has no symptoms. Sometimes, if the grooves are deep enough, you may get a burning sensation when you eat certain spicy or acidic foods. This is fairly rare, however. If the grooves are deep enough, they may harbor colonies of bacteria or bits of food. This can lead to bad breath or fungal infections of the tongue.

Generally, people don't even know they have scrotal tongue until their dentist tells them. Your dentist or physician can diagnose this condition by looking at your tongue.

Expected Duration
Scrotal tongue is a lifelong condition.

There is no way to prevent scrotal tongue.

There is no treatment for scrotal tongue. If your tongue burns when you eat, you should avoid the foods that bother you. This should include cleaning your tongue daily with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper. You can buy these in drugstores.

When To Call A Professional
Check with your dentist if the grooves become uncomfortable.

Scrotal tongue is a lifelong condition, but it usually does not cause discomfort or problems.

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