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White Bumps on Tongue

White Bumps on Tongue

White bumps on the tongue could be indicative of medical conditions such as oral thrush, leukoplakia, oral lichen planus, canker sores, etc. The following article provides information on why such bumps may appear on the tongue, and how these can be treated.
Rutuja Jathar
Last Updated: Mar 1, 2018
Did you Know?
The tongue is the strongest and the most flexible muscle of the human body. It is the only muscle that is not attached at both ends.
Located on the floor of the mouth, the tongue is a muscular organ that not only helps us perceive taste, but also assists in the articulation of speech. It also helps us perform activities such as swallowing and chewing. The specialized membrane that covers our tongue contains small protuberances called papillae. These are categorized into fungiform, filiform, foliate, and circumvallate papillae. These protuberances impart a rough texture to the tongue. The taste buds, which are specialized taste receptor cells that helps us perceive different tastes, are located around these protuberances.

Under normal circumstances, the tongue is pink in color. The appearance of the tongue may change if a person develops ulcers, sore spots, or bumps due to an infection or an inflammatory condition. Bumps on the tongue could also be accompanied by other symptoms such as tongue swelling, pain in the oral cavity, or difficulty in swallowing and chewing.
Causative Factors
White bumps could appear on the tongue due to a variety of reasons. Here are some of the medical conditions that may give rise to such bumps on the tongue.
Leukoplakia
Leukoplakia is a medical condition which is characterized by white bumps or patches on the mucous membrane of the oral cavity.

Causes
» Chewing tobacco and betel leaves and excessive consumption of alcohol are some of the main causes.
» Irritation from ill-fitting dentures, rough teeth, or crowns could also lead to this condition.
» Hairy leukoplakia is another form of this condition. It is characterized by the development of rough, white patches on the tongue and the inside of the cheeks. This infection is caused by Epstein-Barr virus.

Treatment
» The affected individuals must refrain from consumption of tobacco, betel leaves, and alcohol.
» If dentures or dental crowns are irritating the tongue, it would be best to consult a dentist.
» In severe cases, the lesion may have to be removed through surgery.
» Though a few studies suggest that the use of beta-carotene supplements may prove beneficial, further research is required to verify these claims. So, take these supplements only if these have been recommended by your doctor.
Canker Sores
Canker sores, which are also referred to as aphthous ulcers, are small lesions that may develop on the gums, lips, inner lining of the cheeks, or the tongue.

Causes
» The exact reason behind the development of canker sores is not yet clear, but it is believed that excessive consumption of citrus fruits, food allergies, trauma, or nutritional deficiencies could trigger the development of mouth sores.
» A soft tissue injury could be a contributory factor. Injury could occur if a person accidentally bites his/her tongue or indulges in vigorous cleaning of the tongue.

Treatment
» The topical application of medicated gels or the use of oral medication may be suggested for treating canker sores.
» The affected individual must make the necessary dietary changes. It would be best to avoid foods that could irritate the tongue.
» It would be best to refrain from drinking hot beverages and spicy food.
» Mouth rinses and toothpastes that contain sodium lauryl sulfate must not be used.
Oral Lichen Planus
Oral lichen planus is an inflammatory disorder which affects the mucous lining of the mouth. It leads to white, lace-like patches on the insides of the cheeks, lips, gums and tongue.

Causes
» Though the exact cause is not yet known, genetic factors and immune response could be behind the development of this condition.
» This condition could be triggered by the prolonged use of certain drugs that are used for treating arthritis, heart disease, or high blood pressure.
» The lace-like patches may develop due to a reaction to certain food items or dental fillings. Symptoms may worsen due to poor oral hygiene, plaque buildup, or poorly-fitted dentures.

Treatment
» Treatment of oral lichen planus may involve the topical application of corticosteroids.
» Using an antiseptic mouthwash may prove beneficial in tackling the problem of plaque buildup.
» Immunosuppressant drugs may be prescribed in a few cases.
Oral Thrush
Oral thrush is also called oral candidiasis. It is characterized by the development of white deposits on the mucous membrane of the mouth.

Causes
» Oral thrush is a fungal infection, which is caused by the overgrowth of a type of yeast called Candida albicans.
» Newborns, diabetics, asthmatic individuals, denture users, or smokers are more likely to develop this condition.
» Prolonged use of antibiotics may be a contributory factor. Women who have been using birth control pills for a long period may also be susceptible.

Treatment
» The treatment of oral thrush includes the use of antifungal drugs. These may be available in the form of tablets, lozenges, or liquids.
» Taking probiotic supplements may also prove beneficial.
Besides the aforementioned conditions, inflamed taste buds, herpetic stomatitis, or oral cancer could also affect the appearance and the texture of the tongue. Though improving oral hygiene and making lifestyle modifications may help in lowering the incidence of such problems, it would be best to consult a dentist if such bumps appear every now and then.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.