Moeller glossitis

Moeller glossitis


Glossitis is a condition in which the tongue is swollen and changes color. Finger-like projections on the surface of the tongue (called papillae) are lost, causing the tongue to appear smooth.

Moeller glossitis:An erythematous, edematous, and painful tongue which appears smooth due to loss of the filiform and sometimes the fungiform papillae secondary to certain nutritional deficiencies, especially B-vitamin deficencies, as seen in pellagra, thiamin deficiency, and disorders such as pernicious anemia (Hunter or Moeller glossitis).

Alternative Name: Atrophic glossitis, glossodynia exfoliativa, tongue inflammation, tongue infection, smooth tongue, glossodynia, burning tongue syndrome.

Causes and Risk Factors:

Causes include:

    Mechanical irritation or injury from burns, rough edges of teeth or dental appliances, or other trauma.

  • Bacterial or viral infections (including oral herpes simplex).

  • Disorders such as iron deficiency anemia, pernicious anemia and other B-vitamin deficiencies, oral lichen planus, erythema multiform, aphthous ulcers, pemphigus vulgaris, syphilis, and others.

  • Exposure to irritants such as tobacco, alcohol, hot foods, or spices.

  • Allergic reaction to toothpaste, mouthwash, breath fresheners, dyes in candy, plastic in dentures or retainers, or certain blood pressure medications (ACE inhibitors).

  • Yeast infection.

  • Dry mouth associated with connective tissue disorders, such as Sjogren syndrome.

  • Lifestyle, diet, allergies, infections and environmental factors might be the many causes for a red flared tongue.


Symptoms include

  • Smooth appearance to the tongue.

  • Swelling of the tongue.

  • Sore and tender tongue.

  • Color of the tongue becomes pale if by pernicious anemia and fiery red if by deficiency of B vitamins.

  • difficulty when swallowing, speaking or chewing.

  • White patches may be noted in patients Difficulty with chewing, swallowing, or speaking.

Diagnosis and Tests:

Exams and tests include: An examination by a dentist or health care provider shows a swollen tongue (or patches of swelling). Finger-like projections on the surface of the tongue (called papillae) may be absent.

Your health care provider may ask detailed questions about your medical history and lifestyle to determine the possible source of tongue inflammation, if injury or other cause is not easily identified.

Blood tests may be done to rule out other medical conditions.


The aim of treatment is reduction of inflammation. There is need of hospitalization only if tongue swelling is severe. Good oral hygiene is essential. Tooth brushing has to be done minimum two times in a day and flossing has to be done daily. Corticosteroids like prednisone reduces the inflammation of glossitis. For mild cases, topical applications may be prescribed to overcome the side effects of swallowed or injected corticosteroids. Antibiotics, antifungal medications or some other microbials are useful if infection is the reason. Anemia or other deficiencies have to be treated by dietary changes or other supplements. Irritants like alcohol, tobacco and hot/spicy foods have to be avoided to minimize discomfort.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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