• Definition

    Glossitis is a condition in which the tongue is swollen and changes color, often making the surface of the tongue appear smooth.

    See also: Geographic tongue

    Alternative Names

    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: Sjogren syndrome)
    • 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 vitamin B12
    • 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.