The embryonic tongue is formed by two lateral processes (lingual tubercles) meeting in the midline and fusing above a central structure from the first and second branchial arches, the tuberculum impar. The posterior dorsal point of fusion is occasionally defective, leaving a rhomboid-shaped, smooth erythematous mucosa lacking in papillae or taste buds. This median rhomboid glossitis (central papillary atrophy, posterior lingual papillary atrophy) is a focal area of susceptibility to recurring or chronic atrophic candidiasis, prompting a recent movement toward the use of posterior midline atrophic candidiasis as a more appropriate diagnostic term.
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