Geographic tongue or benign migratory glossitis is a condition of an unknown cause characterized by chronic lesions that slowly migrate across the surface of the tongue. The condition’s characteristic wavefronts suggest that it can be modeled as a reaction–diffusion system. Here, we present a model for geographic tongue pattern evolution using reaction–diffusion equations applied to portions of spheroids and paraboloids that approximate a tongue shape. We demonstrate that the observed patterns of geographic tongue lesions can be explained by propagating reaction–diffusion waves on these variably curved surfaces.

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