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Dental and Oral Health Center

Foliate Papillae Bumps



I have a couple of bumps that look slightly lighter than the normal color of my tongue. They line the area at the back of my tongue where the foliate papillae are found. They are on both sides of my tongue and have been there for a few weeks. They seems painless but the area a little closer to the front of my tongue has been a little sore. Also have two very small bumps on uvula that appear to be minor salivary glands, but still unsure of that. Just recently having acid reflux, could this be related? If not what could be the cause of this?


Are you describing the "Foliate Papilla" on the posterior lateral aspect of the tongue or the “Vallate”papillae on the posterior dorsum of the tongue? You may be visualizing the 8-12 vallate papilla on the posterior of the tongue (old terminology “Circumvallate” papillae). In any case changes in oral cavity pH can affect minor morphologic changes of the tongue and associated structures.

You have mentioned that you are experiencing GERD symptoms; the decreased pH can alter the epithelial protective covering of the lingual papilla. The acidic nature of the reflux fluids can have keratolytic effects and cause transient changes in the epithelium. Thus the change you observed may be related to gastric reflux. The uvula may also be the result of irritation from the gastric fluids.

The anterior tongue pain symptoms could be related to the “denuded” tongue surface and loss of protective epithelial coating on the dorsum of the tongue. I would suspect that sour and salt and alcohol may cause a burning sensation.

If the reflux continues, you really need to have it evaluated by your primary care provider.

I hope this helps.


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Response by:

Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
School of Dental Medicine
Case Western Reserve University