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Mouth Diseases

Reddish Color on Middle of the Tongue

08/02/2010

Question:

Hi My mom`s (age 70) tongue has a red color patch (1" x .5" in size) and has muscular feelings or kind of sprain sometimes. no pain. can not eat much hoter food. had dental issue and removed tooths 4 months before. What could be the issue? Which doctor is the best for that? Is it a symptom of any kind of cancer?

thanks.

Answer:

First off, I would suggest that you have your mom seen by the dentist that removed the four teeth.

The reason for this is that this practitioner saw your mom prior to extractions and probably would have a good idea of the status of the oral cavity and tongue before this treatment.

Without seeing your mother, what you are describing is either “Geographic tongue/Benign Migratory Glossitis”, This is a superficial loss of the papillary covering of the dorsum of the tongue. This condition can be the result of many things, spicy foods, high temperature foods (Pizza burns), high acid content foods (tomatoes or citrus) a contact localized reaction (Lichenoid reaction) that can be caused by medications, allergens (corn, peanuts etc), dental materials, mouthwashes etc.

Finally she could also have a minor fungal infection (even though yeasts such as Candida sp. are normal inhabitants of the oral cavity sometimes they can change from a commensal inhabitant of the oral cavity to an opportunistic pathogen).The resultant infection can result in reddened mucosal surfaces and slight ulceration of the mucosal lining.

The burning is related to the loss of the “protective barrier” provided by the mucosal and epithelial covering. The “sprain” she complains of may be the result of her over using her tongue to compensate for the irritation.

To be safe I would have it evaluated to rule out a more ominous pathology like cancer of the tongue.

I hope this helps.

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Response by:

Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
School of Dental Medicine
Case Western Reserve University