• Alternative Names

    Tongue inflammation; Tongue infection; Smooth tongue; Glossodynia; Burning tongue syndrome


    Symptoms of glossitis may appear quickly or slowly over time. They include:

    • Difficulty with chewing, swallowing, or speaking
    • Smooth surface of the tongue
    • Sore and tender tongue
    • Tongue color changes
      • Pale, if caused by pernicious anemia
      • Fiery red, if caused by a lack of other B vitamins
    • Tongue swelling

    Signs and tests

    An examination by a dentist or health care provider shows:

    • Finger-like bumps on the surface of the tongue (called papillae) may be missing
    • Swollen tongue (or patches of swelling)

    Your health care provider may ask detailed questions about your medical history and lifestyle to find the cause of tongue inflammation if there was no obvious injury or other cause.

    Blood tests may be done to rule out other medical conditions.