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Lie Bumps: Causes & Treatment

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Have you ever noticed any tender bumps that appeared out of nowhere on your tongue and wondered what was going on? If this has happened to you or a family member, lie bumps may be the culprit. This condition causes small red or white bumps that can appear quickly on the surface of the tongue. The dental term for this condition is transient lingual papillitis (TLP). This common condition happens in over 50 percent of the population. It occurs most frequently in young women, and even young children can have it, according to Medical Point.

How Can I Identify This Condition?

TLP affects the fungiform papillae of your tongue, which are the small round projections that cover the top of the tongue. These papillae can swell and change colour when an episode of TLP occurs. The Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry says this condition is symptomatic over 80 percent of the time, and as a result it can make eating difficult, especially acidic or sour foods. Sometimes the bumps are numerous and can also be accompanied by a burning or tingling sensation. Other symptoms include dry mouth and a distorted sense of taste.

What Causes Transient Lingual Papillitis?

This condition was originally called "lie bumps" because it was thought to afflict people who told lies. Actually, this annoyance is associated with a wide variety of things, even though no actual cause has been determined. External factors, such as stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, consumption of sour or acidic foods and smoking, have been implicated. Health conditions like eczema, allergies, geographic tongue, gastrointestinal disorders and asthma are also predisposing factors. Injuries to the tongue, such as those caused by repeated irritation (from orthodontic appliances or tongue thrusting), biting or other accidental trauma, are likewise associated with TLP.

When Should I See a Dental Professional?

If this condition does not resolve within a few days, you may want to visit a dental professional, especially if the bumps are painful and interfere with eating. Most people get the classic form of TLP, but a more severe and contagious type exists called the eruptive form. This variant involves a high fever and enlarged lymph nodes. Affected children may experience a loss of appetite and drooling. The eruptive form can last up to two weeks and might recur one to two months later.

How Are Lie Bumps Treated?

In most cases no treatment is necessary since the condition usually resolves on its own. The treatments that do exist are mostly for relieving the symptoms. Avoiding tongue irritation and eliminating spicy or sour foods are common recommendations. Oral moisturising products may be used if dry mouth is an issue. Dexamethasone rinses can be prescribed if eating is painful.

This condition has been connected to sharp-edged teeth and restorations, which your dentist can easily correct, notes a review in the JCDE. Good oral hygiene is an important preventative measure to avoid a variety of problems in the mouth. Lastly, eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep will help prevent lie bumps while promoting your overall health.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.