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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

Small painful cyst-like ball on tongue

12/29/2008

Question:

Hello, I have had a painful cyst-like ball on the bottom-side of my toungue for about a month or longer. I do not know what the casue may be. It is painful to talk and eat. Also if i breathe in cold air, while holding my tongue up, it creates a very painful pinching of the ball. It is sort of like needles piercing the area. It is located right on the lining of the vein on the bottom side of the tongue. I have heard of salivary gland stones but I do not think that is my condition. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

Answer:

What you are describing could be a mucocele or ranula. This condition results when saliva is spilled below the surface of the lining of the mouth, creating a cyst-like pool of spit fluid that may come and go as the body tries (usually unsuccessfully) to mop up the spill.

What is a bit odd about your case is the pain you describe; most mucoceles present as painless bumps or blister-like masses. I recommend you see your dentist or a dental specialist such as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to examine this ball at your earliest convenience.

This bump will likely need to be removed and sent to a laboratory for examination under a microscope (biopsy). In most cases, the biopsy procedure can provide a clear diagnosis and serve as final treatment for the mucous spill. Additional information about mucocele can be found at the link below. Good luck!

Related Resources:

Mucocele

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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