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Fissured Tongue: What You Need To Know

Perhaps you’ve noticed cracks and fissures in your tongue and asked yourself,  “How did this happen? Is this normal?” 

Luckily, there’s no need to worry, as fissures in the tongue are most likely no cause for concern

Fissured tongue occurs in approximately 5 percent of Americans. This condition may be obvious since birth or develop during childhood. In fact, some grooves or cracks in your tongue are considered simply a variation of tongue shape, the same way noses vary from person to person. 

This characteristic is called fissured tongue but may also sometimes be called a plicated or scrotal tongue. Thankfully, this condition is harmless. However, diagnosing yourself is never a good idea.

Your dentists at WhiteWing Dental in McAllen, TX, will happily provide you with a better understanding of what a fissured tongue is.

Understanding Fissured Tongue

A fissured tongue is a benign, harmless condition that changes the shape of your tongue’s surface. A regular tongue is relatively flat across its length, while a fissured tongue has a deep, prominent groove in the middle. You may also find small furrows or cracks across the surface, making your tongue look wrinkled. 

The same way wrinkles deepen as we age, fissured tongues can also deepen at an older age. With regular dental exams, your dentist will most likely spot these fissures. This is how most tongue fissures are discovered.

A fissured tongue rarely presents any sort of symptoms. Unless debris and food leftovers build up within the fissures, you may never notice any symptoms. Nevertheless, there are conditions that can be associated with a fissured tongue:

  • Down syndrome – This is a condition in which a person is born with an extra chromosome. Down syndrome may cause a distinct facial appearance, intellectual disability, developmental delays, and may be associated with thyroid or heart disease.
  • Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome – This is a rare neurological disorder characterized by repetitive facial paralysis, along with swelling of the face and lips.
  • Malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies.
  • Psoriasis – This is a skin disease causing red, itchy scaly patches, most commonly on the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp. Psoriasis is a common chronic disease with no cure.
  • Orofacial granulomatosis – Another rare condition. It causes swelling in the lips, mouth, and area around the mouth. The swelling may come and go at first, however, it becomes persistent if not treated.
  • Geographic tongue – Also known as benign migratory glossitis (BMG). This benign inflammatory condition affects your tongue’s mucous membrane. It often presents no symptoms other than sensitivity to hot and spicy foods.


The cause of fissured tongue is not known. In the scientific community, it is widely believed that fissured tongue is just a physical variation of a “normal” tongue. Anyone can potentially develop fissured tongue, especially as we age. Although the cause is unknown, we do know it is not a contagious disease.

Since the causes of this condition are not known, you cannot prevent fissured tongue, the same way you cannot prevent inheriting physical characteristics from your parents.


Fissured tongue generally doesn’t require treatment. Regardless, it’s important to maintain proper oral care to remove food debris and clean the tongue. Bacteria and plaque can collect in your tongue’s fissures, leading to bad breath and an increased risk for cavities.

It is not common to need a biopsy of a fissured tongue. If a fissured tongue does cause any symptoms, your dentist most likely will just urge you to brush your tongue more carefully. It is highly recommended that you incorporate a tongue scraper into your routine as a gentle way to keep your tongue free of debris. Mouthwash can also help dislodge smaller pieces of food stuck in any of the cracks.

Worried about tongue fissures? Visit your McAllen dentist at WhiteWing Dental for all the dental advice you need.

Routine visits to your McAllen dentist not only help with the early detection of any oral health issues or anomalies, but also help allow us to clear any doubts or concerns you may have. Your local dentist and dental hygienist at WhiteWing Dental can tell when there are changes from normal tongue papillae and other oral conditions. 

We know a fissured tongue may sound (and at times look) alarming, but it’s not an indicator of bad oral health. Continue with a proper oral care routine and schedule your regular appointments with WhiteWing Dental. 

Before you know it, taking care of your fissured tongue will become as normal as brushing your teeth every day!

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