Does your tongue have grooves rather than a flat surface? Then it is probably a fissured tongue.

Fissured tongue is a benign condition that forms one or more grooves or small furrows on the surface of the tongue.

There can also be fissures at the side and across the tongue’s surface.

It is a harmless condition that you do not need any treatment for it.

However, if it is accompanied by a geographic tongue or complications like food getting stuck inside the groove then it can lead to pain.

This is not a contagious condition and does not lead to pain otherwise.

This article discusses the causes and symptoms of this treatment.

Keep reading to learn how you can live with it.

symptoms of a fissured tongue

Fissured Tongue Symptoms

The other names for fissured tongue are scrotal tongue or plicated tongue.

This is a harmless condition whereby there are grooves, cracks or fissures on the top surface of the tongue.

It appears as if the tongue has been cut.

There is one deeper groove in the middle that doctors can immediately recognize i.e. the primary fissure.

While there are visible signs in the middle, the fissures can also be elsewhere such as the sides.

The main symptoms of recognizing these are:

  • Grooves and cracks on the top and side of the tongue
  • These cracks are deep though all have different depths
  • The depth can be as much as 6 millimeters
  • They are only present on the tongue
  • The appearance of lobes as cracks connect with others

grooves on tongue

There will not be any pain or symptoms except for its appearance unless debris fills up in the grooves.

Around 2 to 5 percent of the American population has this condition.

It can occur in childhood by is more common in adults as they age.

Similar to how you get more wrinkles as you age.

Furthermore, it is more common in men than in women.

Alongside this condition, you can also get a geographic tongue (benign migratory glossitis).

This happens when there are no tongue papillae.

These are tiny bumps and without them, your tongue will have a map-like appearance of smooth and red patches with white borders.

This condition accompanies the scrotal tongue.

However, both do not have any symptoms.

Neither are they harmful or contagious.

There can be minor sensitivity to hot and spicy foods though.

So what causes these conditions?

Well, it is quite likely to run in families.

Let’s find out about the causes behind it below!


Fissured Tongue Causes

The exact cause of a scrotal tongue is unknown.

However, it may be due to genetics.

It is usually present in families.

A study of South Africa and Isreal showed how 30.6 percent population of Israel had it while 0.6 percent of South African children did.

Hence, it could go down as a hereditary condition.

However, it can also appear because of an underlying disease or condition.

A geographic tongue is a benign condition it usually occurs with the scrotal tongue.

Furthermore, Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome can cause this condition.

It also leads to facial paralysis and lip plus face swelling that comes and goes.

However, it is a rare neurological condition.

There are links with other diseases such as:

  • orofacial granulomatosis- a disease that swells mouth, lips and surrounding area around the mouth
  • pustular psoriasis
  • malnutrition -however, it is rare to get the condition because of a lack of enough nutrition and vitamin deficiencies
  • Down’s syndrome

This condition is highly common in children with Down’s syndrome.

In fact, 80 percent of children with this chromosomal disorder have the tongue condition.

Children with Down’s syndrome have an extra Chromosome 21 that can cause mental and physical impairments.

They may have a scrotal tongue at birth.

Men usually are more likely to get the condition rather than women.

Plus more adults have it than children because the wrinkling and grooves may increase as you age.

However, it is also found in children at birth but can get more apparent when they grow older.

Thus, there is no precise cause of this condition.

It can happen because of genetics, neurological disorders, malnutrition it can accompany other tongue conditions or physical diseases.

People can keep living normally with this condition.

However, if debris starts getting stuck in the grooves then it may cause pain.

This is the time for treatment.

treatment at doctor's

Fissured Tongue Treatment

Your dentist can tell if you have this condition in your routine checkup.

You do need a biopsy or any special diagnosis to detect it.

Its appearance will let your dentist know about the presence of the condition.

You do not need any treatment for the condition since there are no symptoms.

Unless you have a geographical tongue or any other disease such as the Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome, that’s when your doctors will recommend treatments for these diseases.

However, you can continue your life normal as ever with your tongue.

Unless complications arise.

The complications can only occur when the grooves are deep enough to hold debris.

This leads to bacterial growth inside the grooves and you feel irritation.

Furthermore, as the bacteria are present on the tongue, you will have a bad breath.

Also, the trapped bacteria results in overgrowth and this can be a threat to your oral health.

They can cause tooth decay as they are always present on your tongue and that too within the grooves.

Serious complications can cause oral thrush.

This happens when the fungus Candida albicans infects the deeper fissures.

Therefore, you will require medical treatment to treat it.

Your dentist may give you a topical antifungal ointment to apply on the grooves to clear the fungus.

Moreover, they will recommend you to keep brushing teeth as well as your tongue.

This helps to eliminate the debris that gets stuck or builds up over time in the grooves.

It is easier to avoid the complications rather than to treat them.

You can prevent them by taking good care of your oral hygiene.

Let’s find out more on that below!

tongue brushing to prevent fissured tongue


You cannot prevent the scrotal tongue condition as it is either genetic or because of some other disease.

Hence, your tongue may appear the same way with grooves.

Unless you can treat the underlying condition or replenish any vitamin deficiencies and cure malnutrition.

Though, you can prevent the complications and the condition from worsening.

Clean your tongue thoroughly while you are brushing and flossing.

Do not forget to clean it using the tongue scraper at the back of your toothbrush or a separate one.

Tongue scraping helps to clear the bacteria present on the top surface of your tongue.

Plus, constantly cleaning your tongue will prevent the accumulation of bacteria in the grooves.

Hence, do not forget to clean the tongue daily.

Make it a part of your daily routine like brushing and flossing teeth.

Alongside use a mouthwash.

It will help clear any of the remaining harmful bacteria accumulating in your tongue and wash off the debris.

As a result, you will not feel any pain or irritation.

If you do, it is time to see your dentist.

Usually, this condition has no symptoms unless there are complications like debris getting stuck and that causes pain.

Regular visits to your dentist will even prevent that.

Getting teeth cleaning once every 6 months will clear off any plaque and tartar buildup.

As a result, you will not face any complications.

Therefore, it is a good idea to not skip your bi-annual dental appointments.

Keep up with them regularly to not only prevent this complication but also gum disease, oral cancer and staining.

You may be conscious of the appearance of your tongue.

Though preventing it from happening requires more research.

Since it does not cause any problems, you can live with it normally.

You just need to maintain good oral care.

fissured tongue look


This is a benign condition that will not cause any serious oral health problems.

The most severe complications include bad breath, tooth decay and rare infections all of which are only mild or moderate.

Moreover, they are all treatable.

Treatment consists of first eliminating the complication.

Fillings for decay and cavities plus topical medication for oral candidiasis or thrush.

Otherwise, your dentist will only tell you to do proper oral care.

If you leave the tongue while brushing then now is the time to change that habit.

Using a tongue scraper, clean your tongue daily.

Or you can simply choose a toothbrush with a tongue cleaner at the back.

At least you will not forget to use it when it is present right at the back of your toothbrush.

Furthermore, do not care for your tongue’s appearance.

In fact, these grooves and fissures are just considered a variation of a normal tongue.

You can always consult your dentist if you have any concerns regarding it.

However, it is a totally harmless condition.

The shallow or deep fissures are not a cause of concern.

Though, it is better to once visit a doctor when you notice them.

They could be pointing towards vitamin and nutritional deficiency as well as an underlying neurological condition.

If you have a fissured tongue, see your dentist once and ask them about the oral care measures you can take to prevent complications.

However, do not worry as it will not cause you any severe harm.

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