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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

Tongue Bumps

04/02/2010

Question:

I`ve looked at the questions and answers that seemed related to this but I haven`t found what I specifically have a problem with. I have these large, swollen bumps at the back of my tongue, close to my throat, so much so that touching them makes me gag. About two days ago, things I ate started tasting weird, like everything I ate had an unpleasant after taste. This has happened before, so I thought it would go away. When it didn`t, I decided to vigorously brush my tongue with toothpaste and rinse my mouth out with mouthwash but it still tastes bad. That`s when I noticed the bumps and figured that`s what caused it. I`d like to know what it is and possibly know how to deal with it. Thanks.

Answer:

The bumps you describe are most likely normal structures of the back portion of the tongue known as vallate or circumvallate papillae. There are usually 8 to 10 of these pink, smooth-surfaced bumps and they form a V that points down the middle of the throat. Each bump may measure up to 1/4 of an inch (about 5 mm) across.

The circumvallate papillae are special taste buds and have associated glands that provide some of the enzymes in our saliva that aid in digestion of our food.

The taste abnormalities you describe may be the taste component of a condition known as Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS).  Please visit the links below for additional information.

Best of Luck.

Related Resources:

Things That Go Bump in the Mouth
Burning Mouth Syndrome

For more information:

Go to the Dental and Oral Health (Adults) health topic, where you can:

Response by:

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