Geographic tongue, also known as benign migratory glossitis, is a harmless yet annoying condition that mostly affects the top and sides of your tongue.
It causes the areas of papillae to become white and more pronounced, thus causing red, white and pink patches on the tongue that change position with time.
In some cases, the tongue may also become sensitive to hot, spicy or acidic foods. The red areas sometimes become infected with thrush (candida). In addition, there may be sores and burning pain as well as bad breath.
No one really knows what causes this oral condition. Several factors can contribute to it, such as emotional stress or other psychological factors, oral para-functional habits, allergies, a nutritional deficiency, diabetes and hormonal disturbances.
In addition, this problem is more common in people with psoriasis. Some consider geographic tongue an oral form of psoriasis.
Anyone can potentially develop geographic tongue, irrespective of age and sex. It is not contagious and also will never turn into cancer. The condition tends to persist for months or years. It often resolves on its own but may appear again later.
There is no cure for geographic tongue. To ease the mild nuisance or irritation, you can try some simple home remedies and lifestyle changes. Also, consult your doctor for proper diagnosis to rule out the possibility of a more serious condition.
Here are the top 10 ways to treat geographic tongue.
1. Dietary Choices
To reduce discomfort associated with geographic tongue, avoid or limit food irritants that may aggravate the sensitive tissues of your tongue. Food irritants usually worsen the condition, making it difficult to heal.
- Avoid eating hot, spicy, acidic or salty foods.
- Avoid tobacco products.
- Avoid heavily flavored candy or other food products.
- Avoid acidic fruits and vegetables.
- Limit your consumption of highly sugary and processed foods.
2. Fluid Intake
By keeping your body hydrated, you can ease some discomforts of geographic tongue. To promote hydration, simply increase your fluid intake. Hydration also stimulates the production of saliva which in turn promotes oral health.
- Drink an ample amount of water throughout the day. You can also suck on small pieces of ice.
- Eat frozen chunks of water-based fruits and vegetables like watermelon and cucumber.
- Drink smoothies, fruit juice or vegetable juice.
- Drink 1 to 2 glasses of coconut water daily.
- Drink chilled herbal teas like green or chamomile tea.
Avoid sugary drinks, and cut down on regular tea, coffee and alcoholic beverages.
3. Vegetable Glycerin
Another good home remedy for geographic tongue is vegetable glycerin. It is especially effective in keeping the tongue well moistened, which speeds up the healing process. It even helps get rid of bad breath.
- Soak a cotton ball in vegetable glycerin and apply it on your tongue. Wait 5 minutes, then brush your tongue with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Rinse with warm water. Do this twice daily for several days.
- You can even use a glycerin mouthwash 2 or 3 times a day.
4. Aloe Vera
The anti-inflammatory and healing properties of aloe vera make it an effective remedy for treating different types of oral problems, including geographic tongue. In addition, it helps get rid of bad breath.
- Extract the gel from an aloe vera leaf and apply it on your tongue. Wait 10 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water. Repeat a few times daily.
- Use aloe vera juice to rinse your mouth 2 or 3 times a day.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
If your tongue shows signs of infection or oral thrush, apple cider vinegar is a good treatment option. It helps restore your mouth’s natural pH balance and fight off the infection.
Its sour and acidic taste may cause some burning sensation, but soon you will notice improvement in your condition.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. Use it as a mouthwash 2 or 3 times a day.
- Stir 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and a little raw honey in a glass of water. Sip this solution slowly 1 or 2 times a day.
Follow both these remedies until symptoms subside.
6. Oil Pulling
This ancient Ayurvedic practice can help treat red patches on your tongue. Oil pulling aids in the removal of toxins from your mouth and body. It also helps maintain good oral health.
- Put 1 tablespoon of organic, cold-pressed coconut or sesame oil in your mouth.
- Swish the oil around your mouth for about 10 minutes.
- Spit out the oil and rinse your mouth with warm water.
- Brush your teeth as usual.
- Use this remedy daily in the morning before eating anything
Note: Do not swallow the oil.