Lumps and Bumps

The tongue is one of the most important parts of the body. We use it to speak, eat, and brush our teeth. A person’s tongue is usually flat and free of significant grooves or bumps. So when a tongue bump appears, it can be alarming. However, tongue bumps are common and are usually harmless. There are some possible causes, including injuries, allergies, and infections, but these are relatively rare. In this article, we will go over the causes of tongue bumps, as well as how to treat them. We will also go over what to do in order to prevent them from getting out of hand.


1. What are tongue bumps?


Tongue bumps are a common condition defined by a number of small, raised areas on the tongue. The condition is better described by its medical name, transient lingual papillitis. The term “transient” means that the condition is temporary. The term “lingual” means that this condition is on the tongue. And, the term “papillitis” means that the condition inflames the papillae, which are tiny bumps created by mucous membrane cells that cover the surface of the tongue. About half of the population will experience lie bumps at some point. They often appear as small white or red pimples caused by inflamed and slightly enlarged papillae. The exact cause is not always known, but experts believed it may be connected to stress, hormones, or certain foods. Although transient lingual papillitis can be unpleasant, they usually are not dangerous and typically go away on their own after a few days without any kind of therapy.
The majority of cases of transient lingual papillitis occur in children and is likely contagious. It is often accompanied by swollen lymph nodes and a fever. It usually does not require treatment and clears up within three weeks.


2. What causes tongue bumps?

It is unknown what exactly causes transient lingual papillitis, but it is believed that repeated irritation and injuries to the tongue are usually the cause. Dentists believe that other risk factors include poor nutrition, consumption of sour or acidic foods, stress, lack of sleep, and smoking. There are also a number of health conditions that are possible risk factors including, a yeast infection, eczema, gastrointestinal disorders, asthma, and allergies.


3. How to treat tongue bumps

Often times, no treatment is necessary. The condition will improve on its own over a couple of weeks. However, if you are experience a large amount of pain, it is recommended to go see your dental professional. The bumps on the tongue are not dangerous, but there are some things you can do to make the bumps better. For example, it is important to avoid further tongue irritation meaning stay away from spicy and sour foods. In addition, you can use oral moisturizing products if dry mouth is an issue. Furthermore, you can rinse your mouth out with cool water and then gargle with salt water.


4. What to do in order to prevent tongue bumps

Tongue bumps are a common occurrence for many people. These bumps are often caused by a buildup of bacteria on the tongue. When you have a tongue bump, it can be painful, cause swelling, and cause discomfort when eating. The most common cause of tongue bumps is poor oral hygiene. To prevent tongue bumps, it is important to keep your tongue clean and use a tongue scraper. You can also gargle with salt water or mouthwash to fight the bacteria. You should also avoid eating hard foods, like ice and crunchy foods because these can irritate your tongue. You should also take an over-the-counter medication, if necessary, such as ibuprofen to relieve your pain and swelling. Hopefully, knowing that tongue bumps typically go away on their own makes you feel more at ease with the condition. And while there may not be a clear reason why one would have tongue bumps, you can be sure that by maintaining appropriate oral hygiene, you'll be able to avoid a number of undesirable conditions.



[1] Tongue bumps: Causes, when to see a doctor, and treatment 2020. (accessed August 15, 2022).
[2] Allon I, Vered M, Kaplan I. Tongue Lumps and Bumps: Histopathological Dilemmas and Clues for Diagnosis. Head and Neck Pathol 2019;13:114–24.