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Mouth Diseases

Bumps on hard palate and side of tongue



I am unable to find a great deal of information regarding either of the bumps to which I refer in the title.

First of all, I`ve had a small, hard bump on my hard palate for about three months now. It is located just to the right of the The first time it appeared, it seemed to regress, and I was unable to feel it for three or four weeks until it resurfaced. Since that time it seems to fluctuate in size leading me to believe I might have a blocked minor salivary gland that causes fluid build up. However, even when the fluid-filled part of lesion pops/disappears there is a small, hard base. I was able to view the bump with a dental mirror, and it appeared as a very small (perhaps 1-2mm), white bump with a tiny hole in the middle.

Secondly, I seem to have a recurrent problem on the side of my tongue in which I feel a sharp, stinging pain. When I look, there appears to be something resembling a mucocele on the side of my tongue toward the back. Indeed, one doctor diagnosed it as such. It appears to be fluid-filled as well, and upon reading up, I thought it might be caused by reactive foliate papillae. The first time this occurred, the bump was very irritated and grew quite large before receding.

I am a 25-year-old male and have been a smoker for almost seven years. Naturally, I am very worried about the prospect of oral cancer, and as of this writing, I`ve set a date to quit.

Any input you might have would be appreciated as information that clearly mirrors my experience has been difficult to find. I`d also like some information to take with me to my dental exam. I`ve been nervous about this and would like to ensure I receive proper treatment.

Many thanks.


Regarding information to take with you to a dental exam, what you have provided here should suffice nicely. Your interpretation of the hard palate bump seems reasonable. Even the persistence of the bump would still be consistent with a minor salivary gland that is obstructed/blocked or slightly inflamed.

The tongue lesion could be the foliate papilla and I assume only one side is affected with the pain and swelling. This tissue is identical to the tonsils of the throat and can become irritated and swollen exactly as they do. Occasionally, small cysts can develop in this area (oral lymphoepithelial cyst) but these usually appear more whitish than clear. They are also rarely associated with discomfort or pain.

Neither of your problems sounds like a cancerous condition. But you should have your dentist or a dental specialist examine them to be sure. Hope this helps!

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Response by:

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