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Mouth Diseases

Long bump under tongue?

12/04/2006

Question:

I am just getting over a cold and during the cold I noticed an ulcer or cold sore on top of my tongue for a few days. Now when I look under my tongue I have what looks like a peice of shin hanging down it is sore and hangs down about 1/8 of an inch.

Thanks!

Answer:

First, this could represent a variant of what is called the fimbriated fold.  This is a normal ridge of skin that usually runs on both sides of the underneath portion of the tongue.  Since it looks swollen, maybe it got irritated or traumatized somehow.

Although a bit unusual, this elongated bit a skin could also represent what is called a mucocele.  They occur when damage occurs to the ducts or tubes that carry saliva (spit) from salivary glands found under the skin up to the surface. In the case of the tongue, these would be what are called minor or accessory salivary glands.  Although the spilled mucin or saliva (also called a mucus extravasation phenomenon) can form a broad bump, in areas where the skin is loose (like under the tongue) they can occasionally look like the long balloons used at carnivals to make small animals or shapes.

A mucocele may resolve on its own, but more often there is a history of the mucin spill rising and falling but never quite going away.  If yours persists, you might want to see your dentist or an oral surgeon to see if it may need some form of treatment.

Good luck!

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Response by:

John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Pathology
Associate Dean of Dentistry Administration
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University