Glossitis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains glossitis as a general term for inflammation of the tongue. As with inflammation in other parts of the body, people with this condition can experience symptoms like swelling, redness and changes in the tongue's surface texture. Certain symptoms can be temporary or permanent, mild or serious.

Symptoms of Glossitis

Glossitis can appear out of nowhere, even if a person has not experienced it before. It may be distinguished by certain symptoms, including tongue swelling, redness, tenderness and changes in color. This condition may cause problems if the tongue becomes enlarged or makes chewing, speaking or swallowing difficult.

A swollen tongue could also block the airway. If breathing becomes difficult, contact a dental or medical professional immediately.

Causes of Glossitis

According to the NIH, symptoms may be due to:

  • Various nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of iron, folate or one or more of the B vitamins
  • An allergic reaction to food or medication
  • Bacterial, yeast or viral conditions
  • Trauma, such as a burn or abrasion
  • Reaction from eating spicy foods
  • Acid reflux
  • Dry mouth

Sometimes glossitis can be genetic. It can also stem from a systemic condition like acid reflux.

Treatment for Glossitis

A visit to your dental professional is recommended if you notice any change in color, size, texture or sensation with your tongue. The methods of treating glossitis vary depending on the cause.

If glossitis stems from a bacterial, fungal or yeast infection, your medical or dental professional may prescribe a medication to alleviate the symptoms and heal the infection. For viral or genetic conditions, a doctor can recommend a routine plan to treat the symptoms at home. This plan involves keeping your tongue and whole mouth healthy by brushing twice daily and flossing. To round out care, swishing with Colgate Peroxyl Mouth Sore Rinse helps cleanse and promote healing of minor mouth irritations, and provides a whole mouth clean after a daily regiment of brushing and flossing.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.