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Cysts Under Tongue

Cysts Under Tongue

Cysts under tongue are usually brought on by a malfunction in the salivary glands. The condition can be quite painful, and it therefore becomes important to know how to treat it at the earliest.
Rujuta Borkar
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
Cysts under the tongue, or the floor of the mouth (also known as ranula), usually appear as a bluish or whitish swelling. They contain mucin from a ruptured salivary gland. These are brought about because of a trauma to the area. Depending on the severity of the trauma, the degree of pain may differ from person to person. If the cysts aren't extremely painful, they are usually allowed to heal by themselves; but in some cases, where the pain is unbearable, or the cysts are recurrent, an oral surgery might also be necessary. That is why, a proper understanding of what causes these cysts, and the following course of action to be taken has to be learned.

Why Do these Cysts Appear

The formation of these cysts is closely related to the functioning of the salivary glands. The salivary glands (submandibular gland, a.k.a, submaxillary gland, parotid gland, and sublingual glands) are responsible for keeping our mouths salivated, and constantly supplying it with saliva. Saliva is important to keep the mouth wet, protect the teeth, and aid in digestion. The saliva drains into the mouth through tiny tubes called ducts. When these ducts become blocked, the saliva cannot drain into the mouth, and it thus gives rise to several problems. Other than the blockage of ducts, there are several other conditions that could affect the proper functioning of salivary glands and lead to the formation of these cysts as well.


This condition leads to the formation of tiny salivary gland stones made of calcium in the glands. Most stones do not cause any symptoms, but some stones block the ducts and stop the flow of saliva-which then causes the glands to enlarge, and sometimes, cause an infection.


This is a painful infection that comes about in the salivary glands and is caused by the streptococcus, Haemophilus influenzae, Staphylococcus, or anaerobic bacteria. If left untreated, it could lead to a severe infection and cause cysts to form.


A minor or major trauma to the salivary glands caused by a bite to either cheek, or lips can lead to blocked salivary glands. Which then leads to the formation of stones, cysts, and in some cases an infection.


Most tumors that develop in the salivary glands are usually non-cancerous (benign), like pleomorphic adenomas or Warthin's tumor, but some may turn out to be cancerous as well. These tumors may lead to the formation of cysts.

Viral Infections

Viral infections like flu, mumps, Coxsackie viruses, echovirus and cytomegalovirus can cause the enlargement of salivary glands, which can lead to the formation of cysts.

How to Treat these Cysts

In case of a minor trauma to the salivary glands that leads to cysts, the cysts are usually allowed to heal on their own. However, if the cysts are extremely painful, do not seem to heal, or appear recurrently, then certain steps need to be taken to treat this condition.

Consulting a physician is essential in such a case, so that a diagnosis can be made and the course of treatment can be decided. An X-ray, or even a biopsy may be done to determine the severity of the condition.

An oral specialist will try to drain out the cyst as the first step of treatment. However, this might not always work, and in cases where the cyst does not dissolve, is recurrent, or has developed into a cancerous cyst, then surgery is the only option available.

The surgery involves removing the stones that block the duct so that the gland starts functioning normally, or it involves removing a part or a major chunk of the gland, and in very severe cases, the entire gland itself.

Cysts under tongue will usually dissolve with time, but there are certain cases when the cysts could be an indication of a more serious condition, and a surgery might be required to correct the same. It is therefore advised that one visit an oral specialist to get the condition checked as soon as a cyst is found. The right treatment at the right time is the key to dealing with this condition.