Diagnosis of Lingual Atrophic Conditions: Associations with Local and Systemic Factors. A Descriptive Review

M. Erriu1, *, F.M.G. Pili1, S. Cadoni2, V. Garau1
1 Department of Surgical Sciences, Cagliari University, Cagliari, Italy
2 Digestive Endoscopy Unit, S. Barbara Hospital, Iglesias (CA), Italy

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© Erriu et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Cagliari University Via Ospedale, Cagliari Binaghi 4, 09121 Cagliari (CA), Italy; Tel: (+39) 070537429; E-mail:


Atrophic glossitis is a condition characterised by absence of filiform or fungiform papillae on the dorsal surface of the tongue. Consequently, the ordinary texture and appearance of the dorsal tongue, determined by papillary protrusion, turns into a soft and smooth aspect.

Throughout the years, many factors, both local and systemic, have been associated with atrophic glossitis as the tongue is currently considered to be a mirror of general health. Moreover, various tongue conditions were wrongly diagnosed as atrophic glossitis. Oral involvement can conceal underlying systemic conditions and, in this perspective, the role of clinicians is fundamental.

Early recognition of oral signs and symptoms, through a careful examination of oral anatomical structures, plays a crucial role in providing patients with a better prognosis.

Keywords: Atrophic tongue, Gastrointestinal disease, Infections, Nutritional deficiency, Systemic conditions.