Transient lingual papillitis (TLP) is a condition of the tongue that has no known cause. Transient means it's temporary, and lingual papillitis refers to painful inflammation of the tongue's papillae, which are the small bumps on your tongue's surface. While it's common, the condition often goes undiagnosed.
Location and Symptoms of Transient Lingual Papillitis
According to a literature review in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, TLP generally affects the tip of the tongue, either in an isolated area or on both sides. The enlarged bumps may appear as the tongue's normal color, or they may be red, white or yellow. Researchers have found that the affected papillae don't contain taste buds as they usually do.
The condition comes on suddenly, causing acute pain, burning, tingling or itching. It can also cause dry mouth, difficulty eating and discomfort while eating hot foods. The inflammation and symptoms can last anywhere from a few hours to a couple days to several weeks, depending on the case.
Causes and Risk Factors of Transient Lingual Papillitis
Transient lingual papillitis can affect males and females as early as 3 years of age. In many cases, the cause is unknown. Some dental professionals believe the inflammation is due to chronic irritation from teeth, calculus, fillings or dental appliances. Stress, poor nutrition, smoking and alcohol use may also be initiating factors.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Transient Lingual Papillitis
The diagnosis of transient lingual papillitis does not require a biopsy. Your dentist can make a diagnosis based on a visual exam and your health history alone. The severity of your symptoms helps your dentist determine the appropriate treatment for relief.
Cases that are not very painful can be managed with warm salt water rinses and over-the-counter pain medications. Consider swishing with a mouthwash, such as Colgate Total Advanced Pro-Shield. It kills 99 percent of germs on contact with no burn of alcohol. Your dentist may recommend topical local anesthetics or topical corticosteroids if your TLP is very painful. Most often, though, the condition resolves on its own in just a few days and doesn't return.
Your dentist and dental hygienist are experts on the tongue. If you develop any tongue pain or changes in the appearance of your tongue, schedule a visit. They can give you an accurate diagnosis and the proper treatment for your needs.