Bald tongue

A smooth tongue is also known as Atrophic glossitis, bald tongue or Moeller glossitis. ‘Atrophic glossitis‘ is a condition where one’s tongue turns a different shade of color, swelling in the process. The inflammation is brought on due to many factors, which we will look into later. Small protruding vertical structures, called papillae, are not present anymore, giving the tongue a smooth and bald look. Due to this problem, one can have difficulty eating, and taking in air, as this starts to block one’s airway. We find out what is behind this problem, and how it can be treated upon examination.

Atrophic Glossitis Causes

Some parts of the tongue are devoid of papillae

Listed here are the glossitis causes that lead up to a tongue inflammation. Visual symptoms like tongue sores and red tongue spots are a clear sign of the onset of this disease. If it is the result of a vitamin deficiency, then the tongue often appears bright red; and if it is caused by anemia, which is a shortage of red blood cells, the tongue can appear pale.  The diagnosis of a smooth tongue can be done by visually examining the tongue. In order for proper treatment, however, it is important for the doctor to determine the cause of the condition. Therefore, the doctor might take a blood test in order to eliminate possible underlying health problems. Information regarding one’s lifestyle and a medical history are also helpful in determining the cause of the inflamed tongue.

Here are the possible cases that one can experience, that leads to atrophic glossitis.


  • Pellagra
  • BeriBeri
  • Vitamin B 12 deficiency
  • Anemia
  • Thiamin deficiency
  • Malnutrition
  • Riboflavin deficiency
  • Vitamin deficiency

Tongue Problems

  • Allergic reaction to chemicals present in mouthwashes/toothpastes
  • Alcohol consumption in excess
  • Smoking
  • Food allergens
  • Infection of the tongue
  • Dental filling/dentures allergy
  • Consuming pungent foods
  • Extremely hot (temperature) eatables/drinks
  • Sjogren syndrome

Other Problems

Normal anatomy of a human tongue

  • Blind loop syndrome
  • Pernicious anemia
  • Psoriasis
  • Chemotherapy
  • Riley-day dysautonia syndrome
  • Erythema multiforme
  • Drug reactions
  • Benign migratory glossitis
  • Skin disease
  • Sore throat/tongue
  • Dehydration. Bacterial infections can be caused by dehydration because it reduces the amount of saliva in the mouth, which is responsible for washing away harmful bacteria. As a result, the bacteria have the proper environment in which it is able to multiply and cause an infection to develop.
  • Dana syndrome
  • Plummer-vinson disease
  • Licken planus
  • Glucagonoma
  • Reserpine
  • Persistent tuberculum impar
  • Pemphigus vulgaris

Atrophic Glossitis Treatment

It is not easy to maneuver the tongue around, with the inability to swallow, comes a chance of suffocating too. The swelling can be overwhelming, since the oral cavity has to accommodate the inflamed tongue. One’s face can be blotchy and red, with signs of a fever and even headaches. One is constantly coughing violently, with a bad taste that resides within the taste buds. Friction of one’s teeth against the tongue, can also be one way of having glossitis. There are ways in which that is taken care of, with the teeth being sharpened to a shorter length, or extra teeth removed, if jutting out and causing a problem. Homeopathic means are also available to treat this problem, for a more natural way of healing the inflammation. In order to help with the problems that this will cause, especially with tongue pain and inflammation posing as a obstruction for food and air, there are medications and prevention methods that can help. It is a painful problem that one has to endure, resulting in reddened and hard swelling of the tongue.


To help with the inflammation, these are given to patients, along with topical applications, which is a mouth rinse like prednisone, which is not meant for ingestion, but to use for gargling only. Topical oral anesthetics are available like lidocaine, dyclonine, and benzocaine. You can also try this topical dental paste, instead of the usual – triamcinolone acetonide.


Smooth, bald tongue which is bright red in colour

Antifungal creams along with antibiotics are given to patients to fight off infections if there are any present as the cause for atrophic glossitis. Diet supplements are given to in order to help with the deficiencies.

Changes in Lifestyle

Maintain good oral hygiene, where flossing and brushing one’s teeth are important habits you need to incorporate everyday, twice a day. Avoid too much of spicy foods, alcohol, and cut down on tobacco intake when this problem arises. Tongue swelling can get out of hand, where some patients have to be hospitalized in order to have it treated by doctors. Do not give your condition a chance to go haywire and follow the necessary precaution measures when dealing with this.

Atrophic glossitis is a condition that can turn from something easily treatable, to unmanageable. I hope that with the evident signs in change, along with the sensations in your mouth and tongue, you’ll know when to seek medical assistance. Have a healthy tomorrow.