The tongue plays several critical roles. Not only is it involved in chewing and swallowing, but it provides us with our sense of taste. In addition to that, it is vital for speech, enabling us to produce different sounds to make words. Without it, speaking would be much more difficult. As important as it is, however, the tongue can be quite sensitive. For instance, it is not uncommon for it to develop painful bumps after eating hot food; canker sores can also develop on the surface. Other common problems include hairy tongue, fissured tongue, and geographic tongue.
A normal tongue has many tiny bumps called papillae. In people with geographic tongue, these protrusions are missing in certain areas, leaving smooth patches on the tongue that give it a map-like appearance. It is not uncommon for lesions to move to a different part of the mouth after healing in one area. Despite its alarming appearance, geographic tongue is benign and painless; it is not associated with any long-term health complications. It is also not contagious—an individual cannot get the condition by sharing utensils or kissing.
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