• surface roughness;
  • lingual papillae;
  • tongue;
  • elderly person

doi: 10.1111/j.1741-2358.2011.00509.x

New method for determining surface roughness of tongue

Objective:  The degree of atrophy of the lingual papillae in elderly individuals was evaluated using a quantitative method.

Subjects and methods:  One hundred and eighty-two subjects living in nursing homes and 20 healthy adults as controls were studied. To express the degree of atrophy of the lingual papillae quantitatively, lingual surface roughness was determined by taking an impression with silicone dental material. Based on the impressions obtained from the elderly subjects, they were classified by three expert dentists into three groups: Normal, Smooth and Rough. The same determinations were also performed in the 20 healthy controls and compared with 38 of the elderly subjects who had agreement from all of the experts and without the presence of fissures (Normal, n = 6; Smooth, n = 12; Rough, n = 20).

Results:  The roughness average value for the controls was 65.0 μm, while that for the elderly subjects in the Normal, Smooth and Rough groups was 73.9 μm, 42.2 μm and 94.1 μm, respectively, which were significantly different.

Conclusion:  The present results indicate that the present technique of obtaining an impression of the tongue surface is simple and reliable for routine evaluation and quantification of the degree of atrophy as well as morphology of the lingual papillae.