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Atrophic glossitis, also known as bald tongue,[2] smooth tongue, Hunter glossitis, Moeller

glossitis, or Mller-Hunter glossitis,[5] is a condition characterized by a smooth glossy tongue

that is often tender/painful,[6] caused by complete atrophy of the lingual papillae
(depapillation).[2] The dorsal tongue surface may be affected totally, or in patches, and may be
associated with a burning sensation, pain and/or erythema.[7] Atrophic glossitis is a non-
specific finding,[7] and has a great many causes, usually related to various nutritional
deficiencies or other factors such as xerostomia (dry mouth) or anemia. Although the terms
Mller and Hunter glossitis were originally used to refer to specifically the glossitis that
occurs in vitamin B12 deficiency secondary to pernicious anemia, they are now used as
synonyms for atrophic glossitis generally.[5] In this article, the term glossitis, unless otherwise
specified, refers to atrophic glossitis.

Candidiasis may be a concurrent finding or an alternative cause of erythema, burning, and


Atrophic glossitis is a condition in which the tongue gets inflamed. The color of swollen
tongue is changed. In atrophic glossitis, the tongue appears smooth and bald. Tiny finger like
structures present on the surface of the tongue called Pappilae are completely lost.

A person who is suffering from atrophic glossitis finds very difficult to eat food, especially
spicy and pungent food, due to loss of taste buds. Atrophic glossitis can affect anyone; mostly
it is a condition of adults. Some of the reasons for its occurrence are vitamin deficiency, iron
deficiency, anemia etc.

What Causes Atrophic Glossitis?

There are several reasons responsible for atrophic tongue. They can be local or systemic
reasons. Certain deficiency is also responsible for tongue inflammation.

Deficiency diseases:

Vitamin B 12 deficiency.
Iron deficiency anemia.
Thiamine deficiency.
Riboflavin deficiency.

Local cause of tongue:

Eating very hot food.

Eating spicy and pungent food.
Tongue infection. Poor hygiene and less secretion of saliva in the mouth make an easy
environment for the bacteria to grow on tongue and in the mouth.
Allergy to food.
Allergy to toothpaste and mouthwashes.
Plastic in dentures and retainers.

Systemic diseases:

drug allergy.
Lichen planus.
Erythema Multiformae.

Atrophic Glossitis Symptoms

A person suffering from atrophic glossitis can be easily detected from the appearance of his

Atrophic Glossitis From Vitamin B12 Deficiency: A Case Misdiagnosed

as Burning Mouth Disorder
Julia S. Lehman,* Alison J. Bruce, and Roy S. RogersIII

Journal of Periodontology
December 2006, Vol. 77, No. 12, Pages 2090-2092 , DOI 10.1902/jop.2006.060169