Are Bumps on Back of Tongue Abnormal?

You may have noticed bumps on back of tongue and wondered whether they are normal or a cause for concern. Your tongue is a fascinating organ, responsible for many essential functions, including taste, speech, and swallowing.

It’s not just the taste buds on the top of your tongue that you should pay attention to; there’s another aspect to consider—the bumps on the back of your tongue. In this blog, we’ll explore the world of bumps on the back of the tongue, deciphering what’s normal and when you should seek professional advice.

Normal Bumps are called Papillae

The tiny bumps at the back of your tongue are called papillae. They come in various sizes and shapes, and you have different types of papillae throughout your tongue. Most notably, there are three main types: filiform, fungiform, and circumvallate.

  1. Filiform Papillae: These small, cone-shaped papillae are the most numerous and cover the front two-thirds of your tongue. They’re responsible for the tongue’s rough texture and play a role in moving food during chewing.
  2. Fungiform Papillae: These mushroom-shaped papillae are scattered among the filiform papillae and contain taste buds. They help you perceive different tastes, like sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.
  3. Circumvallate Papillae: These are larger, circular papillae located near the back of your tongue, forming an inverted “V” shape. They also contain taste buds and help distinguish between flavors.

These papillae give your tongue its unique appearance and contribute to your ability to taste and interact with food. Therefore, seeing or feeling these bumps at the back of your tongue is entirely normal and no cause for concern.

When to Worry about Bumps on Back of Tongue

While the typical bumps on the back of your tongue are perfectly normal, there are instances where unusual bumps may appear, indicating an underlying issue. Here are some abnormal bumps to watch out for:

  1. Enlarged or Inflamed Papillae: If you notice papillae at the back of your tongue becoming unusually large or inflamed, it could be due to an infection, irritation, or inflammation. Common culprits include smoking, alcohol consumption, and spicy foods. In such cases, the bumps should return to their normal state once the underlying cause is addressed.
  2. White or Yellow Patches: White or yellow patches on the back of the tongue can be a sign of oral thrush or a fungal infection. These patches may be accompanied by discomfort, a burning sensation, or an unpleasant taste in your mouth. If you notice these symptoms, consult your dentist or healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
  3. Red or Sores: Persistent redness or sores at the back of your tongue that don’t resolve on their own could be indicative of more serious conditions, such as oral cancer. While these cases are rare, it’s essential to seek professional evaluation if you have concerns.
  4. Lumps or Growth: Any unusual lumps or growths at the back of your tongue should be examined by a healthcare professional promptly. While most growths are benign, they can occasionally indicate a more severe issue.
  5. Persistent Pain: If you experience ongoing pain or discomfort associated with the bumps on the back of your tongue, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional. Pain that persists for more than two weeks without a clear cause should not be ignored.


In summary, bumps on the back of the tongue are typically normal and consist of various types of papillae responsible for taste and texture.

However, if you notice any abnormal changes such as enlarged or inflamed papillae, white or yellow patches, persistent redness, lumps, or persistent pain, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation.

Early detection and timely intervention can make a significant difference in addressing potential underlying issues and ensuring your oral health remains in top shape.

Regular dental check-ups can also help monitor the health of your tongue and overall oral cavity, keeping potential problems at bay. Remember, a healthy tongue is not only vital for your taste buds but also for your overall well-being.

Dr. Prida is committed to helping you and your family maintain excellent oral health for life. If you are issues with your oral health and would like more information,  schedule an appointment online or call 214-613-1500 today.