Why Do I Have Painful Tongue Bumps?

Do You Have Tongue Bumps?

Everyone has bumps on their tongues and can appear for multiple reasons. It may be caused by accidentally biting your tongue or the result of something more serious resulting in inflamed bumps on the tongue. If you're concerned about a bump on your tongue that isn't going away, schedule an appointment with your dentist.

Bumps on the Tongue

Papillae are the small, natural bumps that cover the surface of the tongue. The four types of papillae are:

  • Filiform
  • Foliate
  • Circumvallate
  • Fungiform

Every type of papillae with the exception of filiform contain taste buds. Filiform papillae usually appear at the back and center of the tongue, fungiform papillae are located on the sides and tip, circumvallate papillae appear at the back of the tongue and foliate papillae sit just in front of them and on the sides of the tongue.

Circumvallate and foliate papillae are normally large enough to be seen with the naked eye, but sometimes a papilla grows unusually large due to irritation or inflammation. This condition is called transient lingual papillitis.

What Causes Enlarged Tongue Bumps?

Transient lingual papillitis may also be caused by nutritional deficiencies, smoking, alcohol consumption, plaque build-up or dental appliances, accidental bite to the tongue, irritation from foods or chemicals. The condition is temporary and often resolves on its own.

When your papillae, or taste buds, become inflamed and you’re suddenly see raised red bumps on your tongue, or on the back of your tongue, it’s often not a cause for concern.

If you’ve recently had an injury from a bite or irritation from eating or a hot drink, your taste buds can swell up to form a bumpy texture along the tongue. The papillae can become enlarged or inflamed for a number of reasons, most of which are usually harmless. However, if you experience chronic issues and are having difficulty eating, then it may be time to visit your health care professional.

Common causes of enlarged papillae include:

  • Lie bumps (transient lingual papillitis (TLP)): Llie bumps are fairly common and go away on their own over time. They typically have small white or red bumps, lie bumps form when papillae become irritated and swollen.
  • Eruptive lingual papillitis: Most common in children, this form of tongue bumps is contagious and can be accompanied by fever and swollen glands. Often caused by a viral infection, it clears up on its own within two weeks’ time and doesn’t require any treatment.
  • Canker sores (aphthous ulcers): Occurs inside the mouth under the tongue and are non-contagious painful red lesions. The cause is unknown and usually go away in about ten days with no treatment but several over-the-counter pain relievers can help eliviate the discomfort.
  • Medical conditions: Syphilis, human papillomavirus (HPV), cancer, and scarlet fever can all contribute to raised bumps forming on the tongue. If any of these conditions occur, see your doctor right away.
  • Glossitis: Often triggered by an allergy, smoking, or other irritant, glossitis leaves your tongue inflamed and smooth, rather than bumpy. If you have these conditions and it does not go away, see your doctor right away.
  • Lymphoepithelial cysts: Usually making an appearance under the tongue, the soft, yellow cysts are benign and can be removed through a surgical procedure.
  • Traumatic fibroma: Is a pink growth on the tongue, traumatic fibroma is smooth in texture and often a sign of irritation.

Treatment for Tongue Bumps

No matter what’s causing your taste buds to become enlarged, taking a few simple steps can help

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Apply a topical oral gel to alleviate pain
  • Use an alcohol-free mouthwash
  • Avoid acidic or spicy foods that may irritate the tongue or gums
  • Avoid tobacco products
  • In addition to the above, proper oral care can help keep tongue bumps from getting infected or becoming painful. Be sure to:

Sore tongue home remedies

Most causes of a sore tongue, like canker sores, swollen taste buds, and mouth injuries, can be treated at home. The home remedies below can also help you ease a sore tongue caused by serious medical conditions.

  • Oral hygiene: Brushing your teeth with a soft toothbrush and a toothpaste that doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate, flossing, and using a mouthwash can help rid yourself of a sore tongue and prevent infection.
  • Aloe vera: AloeTrusted Source is known for its skin-soothing abilities can be used a few times per day.
  • Baking soda: For pain and swelling, make a paste out of baking soda or try rinsing your mouth with a mixture of warm water and baking soda (1 teaspoon per 1/2 cup of water).
  • Milk of magnesia: Applying small amounts of milk of magnesia, an acid neutralizer, to a sore tongue can help relieve pain and promote healing.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide can treat an infection or sore inside your mouth. Use only 3% hydrogen peroxide and dilute it with water (equal parts peroxide to water) but, do not swallow it.
  • Salt water: Gargling salt water is another way to reduce pain, inflammation, and prevent infection.
  • Honey: This is a natural antibacterial and has been shown to be effective in treating several types of wounds. Simply rub a bit of honey directly on the sore area a few times per day or drink a warm tea with honey.
  • Coconut oil: This may help heal sore tongues because of its antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Apply the oil directly to the sore area with a cotton ball, rubbing it gently or swish it around in your mouth and spit it out.
  • Chamomile: this is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties
  • Antacids: Antacids are used to neutralize stomach acid and may also help relieve a burning or sore tongue.
    Ice and ice pops: Ice has numbing qualities, so drinking ice-cold water or sucking on an ice cube or ice pop can help relieve some tongue soreness, including soreness caused by dry mouth, or a burning mouth.

Over the counter treatments

Visit your local drugstore for these over the county topical treatments:

  • Benzocaine (Orabase, Zilactin-B)
  • Hydrogen peroxide rinses (Peroxyl, Orajel)
  • Vitamin supplements if your tongue soreness is caused by a vitamin deficiency (consider taking a multivitamin or a vitamin B complex supplement).

What to Avoid and Prevention

Avoiding spicy and irritating acidic foods such as pineapple, lemon, and tomato which can worsen your tongue soreness. Instead, eat soft, bland foods, like mashed potatoes and oatmeal. You can prevent tongue bumps by avoiding the things that cause your tounge irritation. Take care when chewing your food and wear a mouth guard while playing sport to avoid accidentally biting your tongue to lower your chances of developing enlarged papillae.

Healing Time

Treatment is rarely necessary for most cases of tongue bumps, including mouth ulcers and enlarged papillae due to tongue injury. Drink plenty of water and rinse with warm salt water to help with the healing process. Topical over-the-counter treatments like oral numbing gels and mouth ulcer medication can help numb any discomfort.

When to Visit the Dentist

Call the dentists at Stonelodge Dental if you notice anything in the health of your tongue that concerns you. Our team at Stonelodge Dental, are highly trained and dedicated dental professionals.

The doctors at Stonelodge Dental is committed to helping you and your family maintain excellent oral health for life. If you have painful sores on your tongue and would like more information about your options,  schedule an appointment online call 214-613-1500 today.

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