The Truth About 'Lie Bumps'

If you’ve ever had one of those painful, annoying white or red bumps on your tongue, you probably had a few questions, like "What is this?" and "How did it get here?" and, "Is it dangerous?" Well, to answer those (literally) burning questions, the bumps are probably transient lingual papillitis, and they are for the most part harmless.

What Are They, Exactly?

Transient lingual papillitis is basically just inflamed papillae, or taste buds. There is very little research about them, but we do know that even though they’re painful, they aren’t dangerous, so that may be why they don’t get a lot of attention from the medical community.

What Causes Them?

Nobody knows that either, but researchers believe triggers like stress, hormones, smoking and trauma like scraping, biting or rubbing may be to blame.

Why Are They Called 'Lie Bumps'?

This is from an old wives’ tale that says they are caused by telling lies, but that’s definitely not what causes them!

What Happens If They Get Worse?

If your TLP bumps worsen, don’t improve or begin bleeding, you may have something more serious than TLP and should be seen by your general practitioner or Dr. Lederman. Occasionally, TLP is actually another condition called eruptive lingual papillitis, which occurs mostly in children and can be triggered by a fever or illness. Eruptive lingual papillitis differs from TLP because the lesions have a more specific cause and look as though they could erupt at any time.

Other Potential Problems ...

In some cases the bump or bumps on your tongue may not be TLP or ELP but something entirely different, such as HPV (human papilloma virus), canker sores, syphilis, scarlet fever, oral cancer, traumatic fibroma or lymphoepithelial cysts. That’s why if you’re not sure what you’re dealing with, it’s important that you make an appointment with Dr. Lederman to rule out something more serious.

Can I Do Anything to Heal Them?

While there is no cure for TLP, and there’s not really a treatment, you can minimize the pain by avoiding spicy foods, using mouthwash to keep your mouth clean and brushing your teeth frequently.

The good news is that TLP outbreaks usually only last a week or two, and after that you should be feeling a whole lot better!

If you have any oral health concerns, or if it's time for your dental exam, please give Dr. Lederman’s office a call at 516-882-1764.

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