Glossitis is a condition in which the tongue is swollen and changes color, often making the surface of the tongue appear smooth.
Tongue inflammation; Tongue infection; Smooth tongue; Glossodynia; Burning tongue syndrome
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Glossitis is often a symptom of other conditions or problems, including:
- Allergic reaction to toothpaste, mouthwash, breath fresheners, dyes in candy, plastic in dentures or retainers, or certain blood pressure medications (ACE inhibitors)
- Dry mouth, when the glands that produce saliva are destroyed (see:
- Infections with bacteria or viruses (including oral herpes simplex)
- Injury from burns, rough edges of teeth or dental appliances, or other trauma
- Low iron levels (called iron deficiency) or certain B vitamins, such as
- Skin conditions such as
oral lichen planus, erythema multiform, aphthous ulcers, pemphigus vulgaris, syphilis, and others
- Tobacco, alcohol, hot foods, spices, or other irritants
- Yeast infection in the mouth
At times, glossitis may be passed down in families and is not due to another disease or event.
Review Date: 03/05/2011
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.