A normal healthy tongue should have a fairly flat surface under normal circumstances. Also, it should have light, thin white moist coating but must have no cracks, (ulcerous) sores, cuts or teeth marks.
However, Emedicalhub.com notes that fissured tongue (medically known as lingua plicata, plicated or scrotal tongue), is one with multiple furrows or grooves on the dorsal top surface. These fissures could be deep or shallow. The shallow furrows could occur in the middle or on the sides of your tongue.
What does it mean to have fissures or cracks in your tongue and what makes to crack?
1. Injury including Bites, Cuts, and Lacerations
The first way through which cracks will occur is through injuries. Below is a brief description of how your tongue may end getting cracks as a result of the injury.
The most common form of injury to the tongue biting which is accidental. Usually, cracks that form from this kind of harm are shallow and tend to be found on the tip and the sides of the tongue because they are nearer to the teeth.
These cracks are slightly painful to touch. They may also be contributing to sores in the mouth when individuals take hot and spicy foods.
Secondly, besides bites, cuts is another possible way in which end up with cracks. Cases of cuts may appear anywhere i.e. under, on tip or sides of the tongue.
Common problems with cuts arise from habits such as eating dry and hard foods (e.g. betel nuts) with sharp edges, using pointed tools to work on teeth or the presence of broken teeth in the mouth. The nature of cracks cuts depends on what has caused them. However, if cuts are severe, they must be very sore. Then this may lead to chronic cracks that take longer to heal.
c). Deep Cracks and Lacerations
Another serious form of injury that may cause cracks in the tongue is a laceration. Lacerations may range from deep cuts tearings.
Major causes include head concussions, falls, seizure and other mechanisms that use great force. For instance, when you have had a head concussion, chances are that your tongue may be caught in between the teeth as the lower jaws are closing due to force from the knock of an incoming body.
Lacerations are considered emergency because some are accidents will lead to deep and huge cracks.
2. Very hot, Spicy foods or objects
Eating hot foods could be harming not only your tongue but also the lining of the mouth. The hot objects or food cause a lot of discomforts. The heat will physically cause your delicate mouth lining to peel and be cracked mildly.
After peeling has occurred, it becomes more vulnerable to infections, be it fungi or bacteria, which quickly multiply in the mouth and around lips.
3. Teeth Grinding
This problem is common in children. Those who normally grind while asleep are at risk. Cracks on the tongue from this malpractice are more likely to occur on the sides as well as on the tip. To avoid it for your loved ones acquire some teeth grinding mouth guard for them and you also.
4. Poor Nutrition and Vitamin Deficiency
Vitamins are very important and a crucial part of your body’s nutrition. For instance, the vitamin B family nutrients are used by the body to synthesize fat and boost metabolism. Let us briefly look at some of the vitamins which they are inadequate can cause tongue cracking.
i. Riboflavin Deficiency or Ariboflavinosis
As an important vitamin in nutrition, riboflavin helps in the uptake of other yet essential vitamins such as B-6, folate, iron, and niacin. Signs that will show that it is too little in the body include swelling or soreness in the throat, swollen tongue and cracked skin around the corners of the mouth. The swelling may trigger cracking if slightly irritated or inflamed.
Besides, it is important to take food and other supplies that have riboflavin but too much of it has negative sides. For example, high concentrations of riboflavin may increase risks of getting kidney stones, sensitivity to light, numbness, and prickling or burning of the skin. You are expected to inquire and get the right amounts for various age brackets.
Natural supplies which should be eaten therefore are as follows:
- Green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, etc.) especially dark-green ones,
- Protein-rich foods such as fish, poultry,
- Closed packed dairy products e.g. milk and yogurt.
ii. Folic acid
Also known as vitamin B-9, folic acid can be another reason why there may occur tongue cracks. As we had mentioned in the introduction, sores can aggravate the condition of already existing and speed up the formation of cracks.
This is a very important nutrition component for women during their pregnancy period. It is also meant for breastfeeding mothers and all adults in the productivity stage. There is a wide range of those looking for food sources with a rich source of folic acid. They are root vegetables such as tulips, beans, salmon milk not forgetting whole grains.
As another group member of vitamin B-family, a deficiency in biotin is more likely to result in paleness, fatigue and anyone may fall victim and risk of cracking or fissures in tongue
5. Certain Disorders, conditions, and diseases
Here are more conditions, syndromes and other causative factors for these cracks and fissures.
a. Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome, MROS, MRS
Although rare, Melkersson Rosenthal syndrome or MROS is a neurological disorder. Individuals who are affected are “characterized by recurrent, long-lasting swelling of the face, granulomatous cheilitis, facial muscle weakness (palsy) and a fissured tongue.” [rarediseases.org].
MRS or MROS is linked to genetic factors which particular family members have and are affected. Well, if some family members are allergic to certain food diets, the symptoms are thought to be presently visible.
How is MRS diagnosed and treated?
A patient’s history is indispensable in constructing a susceptible occurrence of this syndrome. Diagnosis requires a biopsy but in some instances, a laboratory study of a patient’s history is final to confirm MROS.
In most cases, Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome requires no treatment since the symptoms may go away on their own. Otherwise, should the symptoms persist treatment are available- antibiotics, corticosteroid injections or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. Other advanced therapies include surgery and radiation.
b. Down’s Syndrome or Trisomy 21
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder and a great challenge from childhood to adulthood. This syndrome is associated with fissures.
According to WebMD “fissured tongue occurs in as many as 80% of children with the chromosomal disorder.” Babies born with this condition begin to explicitly show up signs as they grow up. Characteristically, as noted earlier, fissured tongues are distinguished by their prominent grooves.
Unfortunately, Down’s syndrome has no cure. However, with proper therapy programs being put up in certain countries such as the US, have seen life expectancy incredibly increase to around 60 years.
c. Geographical Tongue
The effects of a geographical tongue are a bit tricky because the symptoms can be experienced during meal especially when hot foods, spicy or salt-containing foods are served. This benign or harmless condition at times replicates itself in fissures if at all grooves are likely to develop within the splits.
Painful cracked tongue
Besides just having a tongue with cracks or fissures, whether deep or shallow, a sore and painful one is uncomfortable to stay with. It is not only a problem on its own but causes other discomfort situations especially when you want to eat (be it your spicy and yummy food) or freely chat with friends.
We will mention a few and look at the rest. We shall also highlight, symptoms, cure, and medicines to heal painful cracked tongue. The bottom line is for you to see a medical practitioner for diagnosis of cracks if they are sore. Some of the causes already discussed above are associated with cracking and soreness.
1. Oral Thrush, or Yeast Infections
One of the known causes of cracks in the tongue that are accompanied by pain is oral (thrush) yeast infections. These infections of the inside of the mouth and surrounding areas (lips), may be brought about by viral infections such as vaginal yeast or candida of the genital, and weak immune system. Other causes are diabetes and oral cancer.
According to Livestrong.com, the following are symptoms:
- Oral pain,
- Lesions on, under tongue and mouth lining (as shown in this picture) that lead to loss of taste.
If you may start to experience the above symptoms, seek medical attention by visiting your nearest health center to get blood tests for diabetes or other vaginal yeast infections such as vaginal culture.
2. Benign Migratory Glossitis (BMG) – Geographical tongue
As another reason for cracking and rather a soreness is “geographic tongue which is a harmless condition affecting the surface of your tongue” [www.mayoclinic.org], characterized by irregular and map-like smooth patches that look reddish hence geographic. Up to recent ages, the real cause is not known and this makes it even difficult to treat.
What are its signs and symptoms? Individuals who tend to symptomatic of this condition have problems taking hot foods. It is also reported that there occurs a burning sensation and pain when having salty or spicy food.
Even though harmful, this condition can deny your comfort during meals. If you want to avoid other complications, go for tests or to be examined and diagnosed.
After diagnosis, your GP/doctor can give medications mean to relieve pain and lower the tongue’s sensitivity to hot and spicy foods. These drugs and medicines include mouth rinses with antihistamine or corticosteroid and pain relievers.
3. Mouth Ulcers
Ulcer of the mouth would be a viral infection caused by oral thrush, or Geographical tongue. ulcers can cause sore cracked tongue. If so then, the causes are bacterial infections very common among young children.
NOTE: mouth ulcers should not be confused with cold sores.
Even though both are sores, a mouth ulcer is round or oval that affects the inside of cheeks, tongue or lips. An example of mouth ulcer amongst adults is aphthous mouth ulcers. These sores are usually painful. They occur anywhere in the mouth but are common under the tongue, [www.nhs.uk] points out.
Treating or getting your tongue cracks treated means getting the right medication because of the varied causes. As we saw earlier, some causes may be due to infections. Any treatment to ensure you cure them should highly be influenced by what causes the cracks. We shall see various categories of medicines and drugs that are available for purposes of getting rid of
Antibiotic medicines and toothpaste
According to Beautyhealth.tips, one of the effective ways to get rid of a cracked tongue is by proper administration of antibiotics. These drugs will fight bacteria and fungus that exist in the oral tract. For example, scrapping your cracked tongue with oxygenating kinds of toothpaste provide anaerobic bacteria oxygen hence killing and scrapping them out. These kinds of toothpaste also have antibiotic properties.
Take caution not to use antibiotics for too long because they may cause your tongue to start peeling.
Remedies and tips
Most remedies for fissures and cracks aims at improving (restructuring) their structural appearance and functionality while reducing or clearing symptomatic effects.
Now, whether they are deep, shallow or painful, remedies may be natural or clinical. However, some remedies are looked at as an alternative to treatments offered by specialists and health centers.
After you have been diagnosed and treated you may find it necessary to adopt some measures and promote healing. Here is a short outline of what to expect or find helping reduce symptoms such as bad breath, pain, and difficulty in eating or swallowing.
Dental Hygiene, Care, and proper oral cleaning
The cracks on your tongue will more likely cause more suffering. No doubt. But that doesn’t pave way for excuses to ignore your oral or dental hygiene. Remember that, without sufficient after-care, you may not get the expected post-treatment results. This thus, calls for you to continue with remedies to prevent any further infections as treatment is in progress.
Alternatively, if your fissures or cracks don’t hurt, you may consider using a softer toothbrush to remove and clean the infected tongue. You should do this at your doctor’s instructions to prevent any further complications.
One of the simplest remedies is drinking plain water. Water as a natural source will not only hydrate but also wash away debris and other food remains. These remains will remain stuck in between cracks present on the tongue, simultaneously attracting germs, bacteria, and other harmful fungi.
This ensures that micro-organisms are kept at bay.
Floss your mouth
Lack of consistent flossing, bad breath may be associated with cracks and fissures in your tongue. A good flossing medicine should have antibiotic properties so that after using them bacteria population in the mouth is brought down. Eventually, this practice can greatly reduce disease, and intensity of infections to the cracks.
If you need to naturally improve your oral health and reduce cracks in the tongue, relieve pain and other symptoms, go for herbal remedies with medicinal qualities. There are those naturally available while some have to be prepared locally with home procedures. Have a look at the following herbal treatment procedures.
1. Gargling with ginger and garlic
As your first home remedy, one important fact about these two natural ingredients is about their antibiotic qualities.
You need the following before you get to do it yourself.
- A fresh red onion,
- At least 4 cloves of garlic,
- A glass of water,
- Crushing tools.
Carry out this simple procedure:
- Clean both the garlic and onion.
- Crush them until they form a paste-like mixture.
- Add half to full glass of clean water to your mixture.
- Thereafter, gargle for 2 -3 minutes before spitting out. (Don’t swallow) Repeat it twice each day.
Alternatively, gargle using a mixture of half-tablespoon ginger and a glass of water.
2. Lavender Oil
According to Beautyhealth.tips, Lavender oil is a natural herbal oil with natural phytochemicals namely Linalool and Linalyl acetate. The two compounds are essential in as much as relieving pain due to cracks.
Apply it directly on to the tongue ensuring that it penetrates the crevices and cracks.
3. Use Fennel seeds
As another remedy for dealing with cracked or fissures in the tongue, fennel seeds can hydrate dry mouth including your tongue. Moreover, this will help clear or get rid of symptoms such as the bad breath. Additionally, by chewing them, your salivary glands will be stimulated to secrete more saliva to aid hydration.
4. Try medicinal Neem (Margosa) roots and leaves
Margosa tree leaves are medicinal and can serve as a multipurpose treatment option for people whose tongues have cracked.
To be able to utilize its antibacterial cure, you need to extract the juice from the leaves or roots. Use it to clean your mouth as you would do tooth-brush. Apart from that, patients who have bad breath and dental problems such as infected gums or weak teeth can benefit too.
5. Mint Leaves
These leaves will not only leave a cooling effect but also take away the pain and burning sensation that is brought about by geographical tongue symptoms or other known diseases. It can heal the lesions in the mouth and also on the tongue from Candida infections or oral thrush.
To use mint leaves, you need to obtain fresh mint leaves and clean them. Secondly, measure a little amount of water and then boil and add to mint leaves. Let it cool down or refrigerate it. Drink twice a day and see if you can start taking and enjoying your spicy food.
6. Aloe Vera Gel
Due to its ability to hydrate and create a soothing effect, you may try this as it considered to be amongst the best natural remedy even for the cracked tongue. Take about a half glass of extracts of aloe each morning or at any convenient time.
Having looked at the various treatments and remedies, here are more health tips and measures to adapt and prevent it all. To avoid sores in the mouth from worsening, the additional Dos and DON’Ts besides the remedies discussed earlier include:
1. Avoid smoking
If you stopped to smoke, fungal infections will reduce and promote healing provided that you consistently go on with medications as instructed.
2. Stop taking spicy and hot foods
If sores in the mouth are present and cause pain, it is a high time to abandon hot or spicy food until you have adequately recovered. Why? When sores are exposed to heat and acidic beverages, they worsen – more tongue cracking may show up slowing down the healing process altogether.
3. Avoid Stress
Psychologists have suggested that stressful situations do more harm than good. Managing stressful situations requires more energy and concentration of the brain, this can be critically detrimental.
Following the traditional Chinese medicine, (TCM) a red tongue around its tip indicates some kind of psychological stress or one is thinking too much.
Is it time to see your doctor?
Unless you are getting well all along, make appointments to see your GP in case cracked tongue or sores aren’t improving or showing signs of reformation.
Recommended further reading
- Oral care – Fissured Tongue: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/fissured-tongue. Reviewed by Alfred D. Wyatt Jr., DMD.