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Mouth Diseases

Swollen Plica Fimbriata and Taste Buds: HELP!

11/12/2010

Question:

My tongue has annoying "fringe" things that hang off the Plica Fimbriata. Also, at the same time I have what appears to be swollen taste buds on the top tip and back sides of my tongue. Both conditions hurt and are swollen. I have had this condition from the age of 13 but only occurred maybe once a year. I am now 44 and the outbreaks are occurring often (about every 3 months over past 2 years). I don’t smoke of drink. I have been keeping a record of what I eat and symptoms to see if it’s an allergy of some sort, but I have not been able to isolate any specific food. However, I have noticed a correlation of having severe gas pains, constipation, disturbed sleep and run down feeling before and during the outbreak. The length of outbreak has also increased from only a few day to three weeks. My dentist doesn’t know what could cause the problem. My ENT said it was an allergy. My doctor said it was probably burnt tong syndrome. I’m concerned because of the increased intensity and length of the outbreaks. These hurt so bad that I want to bite off the end of my tong!

Thank you.

Answer:

It would be difficult to say what this represents without doing an examination. The "fringe" things that you mention are the plica fimbriata (translated - "fimbriated folds"), and are undoubtedly normal for your tongue, although their prominence varies from person to person. The "swollen taste buds" could be normal fungiform and circumvalate papillae, and you might have burning mouth syndrome, which is a common oral sensory neuropathy that may wax and wane in severity. Transient lingual papillitis, which is thought to represent traumatic injury to the fungiform papillae, might be another possibility, but without examination by an oral pathologist, it would be impossible to determine.

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Response by:

Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD
Professor Emeritus of Oral Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University