The National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes 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 texture of the tongue's surface. Symptoms can be temporary or permanent, mild or serious.
Symptoms of Glossitis
Glossitis can appear out of nowhere, whether or not a person has experienced it before. It can be distinguished by certain symptoms, including tongue swelling, redness, tenderness, and changes in colour. This condition may lead to problems if the tongue becomes enlarged or makes chewing, speaking or swallowing difficult.
A swollen tongue could also block the airway. If you have difficulty breathing, 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 to spicy foods
- Acid reflux
- Dry mouth
In some cases, 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 colour, size, texture or sensation regarding your tongue. Treatment methods for glossitis vary depending on the cause.
If glossitis stems from a bacterial, fungal or yeast disorder, your medical or dental professional may prescribe a medication to alleviate the symptoms and heal the disorder. For viral or genetic conditions, a doctor may recommend a routine to treat the symptoms at home. This routine would involve keeping your tongue and whole mouth healthy by brushing twice daily and flossing. In addition, swishing with mouthwash helps cleanse and promote healing of minor mouth irritations; in combination with a daily brushing and flossing routing, it will help keep your whole mouth clean.