Objective: To characterize the prevalence of geographic tongue (GT) among US adults.
Design: Population-based case-control study.
Main outcome measures: The presence or absence of GT.
Subjects and methods: Data from 16 833 adults examined during The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994 (NHANES III), a study based on multistage probability sampling were analyzed using SAS-callable SUDAAN 9.0.1.
Results: Geographic tongue point prevalence was 1.8% (95% CI: 1.4, 2.3). Multivariate logistic regression showed significant effects of race-ethnicity, with Whites (AOR = 1.8; 1.3, 2.5) and Blacks (AOR = 1.6; 1.2, 2.1) having greater odds of GT than Mexican-Americans; current corticosteroid therapy (AOR = 3.7; 1.54, 8.6). Cigarette smokers had lower GT prevalence (AOR = 0.4; 0.3, 0.6). Fissured tongue (FT) was strongly associated with GT among non-smokers: AOR = 17.5 (7.8, 39.5). We did not find significant associations with age, gender, oral contraceptive use, diabetes mellitus, allergy or atopy, psychological or dermatological conditions as previous research has suggested.
Conclusions: Geographic tongue was more prevalent among Whites and Blacks compared with Mexican-Americans, positively associated with FT, and inversely associated with cigarette smoking.