Tongue is known to be the strongest muscle in the human body, and needless to mention, one of the most overworked muscles too. However, sometimes the tongue may be deeply fissured or cracked in appearance. These cracks or folds appear all throughout the borders of the dorsal surface of the tongue, in which case it is also known as fissured tongue or scrotal tongue.
What May Cause the Tongue to Crack?
Note that cracked tongue does not have any specific cause. Many theories have been put forth by experts which attempt to explain its occurrence. However, till date, no one theory alone has been satisfactorily accepted as the cause of this condition.
☞ Injury to Tongue: This condition may occur due to trauma to the tongue. The tongue may develop fissures due to continuous frictional brushing of the tongue, especially the lateral borders of the dorsal surface of the tongue, while eating and talking against a broken tooth or fractured tooth. This friction may cause continuous impingement on the tongue, which may lead to fissures and cracks on the tongue.
☞ Hereditary Cause: Although this claim is yet to be backed by conclusive studies, some people say that this condition may be hereditary in nature. In such cases, most people will have a fissured tongue right from birth.
☞ Tongue Abnormalities: There are certain conditions which may lead to development of fissures in the tongue. These include geographic tongue and hairy tongue. Geographic tongue is a condition where there is loss of filiform papillae of the tongue, which often creates a bald patch on the tongue. The borders of these patches may give the appearance of a fissured tongue. Hairy tongue is a condition where there is overgrowth and keratinization of the filiform papillae, which gives the appearance of hair on the tongue, which may eventually get stained, leading to tongue discoloration. This may also form a pattern which may be mistaken for a fissured tongue.
☞ Other Causes: Other cracked tongue causes include stress, teeth grinding, excessive intake of spicy food, etc. If there are swellings or bumps on tongue, the demarcation of the swelling could resemble a fissured tongue. This is normally seen when there is a large swelling and the fissures are occurring between the swelling. Sometimes oral thrush or oral yeast infection causes a fissured tongue. Oral thrush is a mouth infection caused by candida fungus in the lining of mouth, or low immune system. A lack of biotin, a B vitamin may also cause cracked or sore tongue. One may experience symptoms like tiredness, weakness, pain in muscle, and dry or gray skin due to the biotin deficiency. Sjogren's syndrome could also be a contributory factor. Other causes include nutritional deficiencies, genetic syndromes, etc.
How to Know if Your Tongue is Cracked?
The symptoms will include the appearance of fissures or cracks on the tongue. There may be other symptoms accompanying a fissured tongue, like pain, irritation, mouth sores, grooves, etc. There may also be increased sensitivity and burning sensation on intake of spicy food. Food particles may get lodged and stuck in the fissures of the tongue, which may make it one of the causes of bad breath. Also, lodged food particles could end up being the breeding ground of microorganisms, thus, leading to candida infection and other fungal and bacterial infections of the tongue.
What Can You Do?
Since most cases are asymptomatic, there is no need for active treatment. It is instead very important to practice diligent dental care, either by brushing or using tongue cleaners to keep the fissures clean and free of food particles and microorganisms. In case of a swelling on the tongue, contact your dentist immediately, so that he may run a few tests to rule out tongue cancer.
Thus, though a fissured tongue is merely a discomforting symptom and rarely indicates the presence of a disease, thus, rarely necessitating treatment, if it is causing excessive pain and discomfort, then it is best to get it diagnosed and treated by a dentist at the earliest so as to prevent further complications.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.