MacroglossiaThe tongue normally resides on the inside of the arch formed by the lower teeth.  Most people’s tongues fit neatly into this space, however, a minority of people have tongues which are a bit larger than the space available.  This does not mean that the patient cannot actually fit their tongue into this space.  The tongue is a very flexible organ, and can accommodate itself to the prevailing conditions easily.  On the other hand, once fitted into the space, it relaxes and presses up against the teeth.

This causes the tongue to fill up the space available.  Tongues like this have scalloped edges like the one pictured above.  The scallops reflect the shape of the teeth as well as the spaces between them.   This scalloped appearance is the hallmark of the condition known as macroglossia.

Aside from macroglossia, the tongue pictured above has a condition known as fissured tongue, also known as scrotal tongue.  This is characterized by folds and fissures in the dorsal (top) surface of the tongue.  The fissures are of variable depth and usually extend laterally from a median groove.   This condition does not cause any symptoms, unless food particles and debris lodge in the depths of the fissures causing a mild glossitis (inflammation of the tongue).  It is considered to be a normal form of tongue anatomy.
Macroglossia2Macroglossia is not considered a disease condition, or even an abnormality.  This condition rarely causes discomfort except to increase the frequency of accidentally biting the tongue.  The only other problem I have noted is that in persons who are prone to TMJ (Caused by unconscious grinding and clenching of the teeth–bruxing),  macroglossia often leads to a feeling of burning around the edges of the tongue.  This burning is caused by the habit of rubbing the tongue against the teeth, or “sucking” on the tongue.  The burning stops when the patient makes a conscious effort to stop the tongue habit.  Unfortunately, the tongue habit, like the bruxing habits that cause TMJ, is generally an unconscious habit and is difficult to consciously stop.

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