Normal Tongue vs. Fissured Tongue
August 04, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

Normal Tongue vs. Fissured Tongue

A fissured tongue has a rough, groovy, textured surface, while a normal tongue has a flat and smooth appearance. A fissured tongue contains small fissures at the top of the tongue. It is a benign condition and rarely painful.

The grooves and fissures of the tongue may form and deepen with age. It can be a childhood condition that may worsen as the individual grows older. Or it may also form due to other medical conditions like malnutrition, dry mouth, Down’s syndrome, etc.

While a normal tongue is pinkish, a fissured tongue may appear reddish, especially around the cracked parts, and it may also be a little whitish.


The appearance of a fissured tongue can be described as the tongue partially sliced, lengthwise, in half down the middle. It is usually the deepest fissure on the tongue. There may be other smaller grooves and cracks in different directions on the top of the tongue.

The diagnosis of a fissured tongue is quite easy, as the main fissure in the middle of the tongue gives it away. The textures and depth of these fissures vary from person to person, as do the symptoms.

It is not a dangerous condition, although it is reported as quite an uncomfortable one; the sensitivity for certain edibles, e.g. spices, may increase due to this condition. Individuals experiencing this condition are often insecure about it, too.


As mentioned, the exact cause of this common condition is still unknown. Some medical researchers and dentists consider it a genetic condition. A few doctors and physicians also think of it as a variation of a normal tongue.

Associated medical conditions:

Most patients experiencing a fissured tongue are reported to have other medical conditions simultaneously. For example, patients with oral cancer, xerostomia (dry mouth syndrome), malnutrition, endocrine or digestive disorders, certain allergies, and even psychological issues like anxiety, and stress, etc. report experiencing this condition.

A couple of the major conditions associated with a fissured tongue is Down’s syndrome and Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome.

Down’s syndrome is a very commonly heard medical condition in which the chromosome count is 47 instead of 46. Due to this, the patients suffer from various physical and mental impairments, and fissured tongue is one of those characteristics.

Whereas, Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome is known as facial paralysis. It is a neurological condition where the face and lips swell up, paralyzing facial muscle movement. Fissured tongue is a commonly seen condition in this syndrome.

Fissured tongue is also associated with vitamin deficiencies. The deficiency of vitamin B2 and B12 is most commonly linked to the condition of a fissured tongue. Similarly, malnutrition and other oral habits like smoking and vaping also cause mouth conditions, including oral cancer, fissured tongue, plaguing and decay of teeth, chronic bad breath, and burning mouth syndrome, etc.


There is no particular treatment for this commonly occurring, yet harmful condition. It is also because the cause of its occurrence is unknown.

Still, the dentists recommend to regularly floss, brush the teeth and top of the tongue, and use mouthwash after having meals. Due to the groovy and cracked surface of the tongue, the particles of the meal are likely to collect inside these cracks, as well as bacteria and plague.

This may cause bad breath, white tongue, and increased decay of teeth, brittle teeth, and increased chances of formation of more fissures. So, regular cleaning and maintaining a healthy diet is important. To seek further medical help, book an online appointment with Shifa4U.

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.