Changes in the Tongue

Several anomalies may occur on the tongue during nutrient deficiencies.

  • A painful, magenta colored, atrophic, smooth tongue may indicate riboflavin deficiency.
  • Glossitis can indicate a vitamin B6, folate or vitamin B12 deficiency. However, chronic folate deficiency can cause the tongue papillae will become atrophied, resulting in a shiny, smooth surface appearance.
  • Glossitis with loss of filiform papillae may also indicate an iron-deficiency anemia. While, a niacin deficiency can result in a raw beefy, bright red, swollen, and painful tongue (glossodynia).
  • Glossodynia may be present in diabetes, resulting in pain while chewing and swallowing.

Conventional and nutritional therapeutics focuses on correcting the cause of the deficiency, providing adequate caloric, protein and nutrient intake for healing, and consuming a non-irritating diet consisting of liquids and temperate, milder tasting, and softer foods.

Given that nutrients function together and nutrient deficiencies rarely occur in isolation, it is important to have adequate supplies of all nutrients to ensure adequate growth and maintenance of the oral tissues.Ā