Median Rhomboid Glossitis Basics

Median rhomboid glossitis (MRG) is a rare, benign, and noncontagious condition that appears to leave an unusual spot on the top surface of the tongue and normally has no other symptoms. This spot is actually an area of the tongue where the tiny bumps known as filiform papillae are missing. The flat, smooth area usually forms on the back half of the visible tongue and may be red or dark pink in color. You may discover that you have MRG on your own when looking in the mirror, or your dentist may see the spot that discolors a portion of your tongue during your dental examination.

What Causes MRG?

Most researchers agree that the condition is caused by a longstanding fungal infection inside the mouth. Candida, a type of fungus, is thought to be the main cause of MRG.

What Are Some Other Possible Symptoms of MRG?

In addition to the spot itself, you likely won’t even know that you have the condition unless you see it yourself or the dentist discovers it. In some rare cases, people with MRG have reported a painful, burn-like sensation, and the discomfort is usually felt when eating. A change in how food tastes is an unreported symptom.

Are There Risk Factors That Increase the Chances of Developing MRG?

MRG is not always a preventable condition, but certain factors may increase your chances of developing it. The condition is usually seen in greater numbers among men between the ages of 30 and 50 even though it is still a rare occurrence. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or another condition that affects the immune system, you are likely to develop MRG at some point in your life. Certain medications, such as antibiotics, steroids and chemotherapy medicines, have also been linked to the condition. Smoking, having chronic dry mouth, and wearing dentures while sleeping are other known risk factors. Even the foods that you eat can increase your chances of getting MRG, and cutting down on your sugar consumption and increasing your intake of foods that are rich in folate, iron and vitamin B12 can decrease your risk.

Is MRG Treatable?

Treatment is not always needed for MRG given its usual asymptomatic nature, but certain lifestyle changes can sometimes reverse the condition. To treat MRG or prevent the condition from occurring, it is best to stop smoking, remove dentures before bedtime, and drink enough water to prevent the effects of dry mouth. Taking supplements to increase your vitamin and mineral intake and refraining from eating sugar-rich foods can also help. Of course, you will also want to maintain good oral hygiene to decrease fungal formations inside your mouth. You may even be prescribed antifungal medication to try to treat the condition. Even with these treatment measures, MRG is sometimes impossible to resolve completely.

Other Considerations

Any unusual spots, patches, discoloration or lesions that you notice in your mouth should be examined by a dentist to rule out more serious conditions. Some cancerous lesions can mimic the appearance of MRG, and a doctor may take a tissue sample (biopsy) to be analyzed for the presence of any cancer cells. There may be an even bigger concern if the spot that you notice inside your mouth grows, alters its color or changes in other ways.

If you think that you have MRG or some other oral condition, notify your dentist. He or she can diagnose the condition properly and recommend any treatments that may be the most effective for you.