Transient Lingual Papillitis (5 Definitive Symptoms)

Transient Lingual Papillitis

Last Updated on: 21st May 2024, 09:23 am

Transient lingual papillitis refers to the enlargement of one or several lingual papillae, which has a sudden and painful onset but happens transiently. This condition is also popularly known as “Lip bumps” because it was believed in the past that only people who lied experienced this inflammation. Although now it is known that this is not the case, its name has remained. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about “Lip bumps” or transient lingual papillitis.

What are fungiform lingual papillae?

lingual papillae
lingual papillae

Lingual papillae are small structures that are located on the surface of the tongue and contain taste receptors. There are papillae of various shapes, with fungiform papillae (the ones affected by transient lingual papillitis) having a mushroom-like shape and being distributed throughout the tongue, being more abundant in the tip and lateral areas.

Who can experience transient lingual papillitis?

This condition can affect people of any gender, from 3 years of age onwards. However, it appears to occur more frequently in women.

What does transient lingual papillitis look like?

Transient lingual papillitis presents as swelling of one or several isolated fungiform lingual papillae in the tongue, usually at the tip, lateral edges, or on top of it. Enlarged papillae may retain their normal color or take on a reddish, yellowish, or whitish appearance. Although less common, it is also possible for them to take on a brown or black color as a result of staining from dark-colored foods or tobacco.

Causes of transient lingual papillitis

mouth infection
mouth infection

The cause of this condition is not very clear, and it seems to have several possible origins, including:

    • Consuming or drinking very hot foods or drinks.
    • Consuming or eating foods that are too spicy or acidic.
    • Biting injuries.
    • Harmful habits such as tongue pulling or sucking.
    • Allergy to certain foods.
    • Allergy to oral hygiene products.
    • Infections in the mouth.
    • Hormonal changes (in women).

Symptoms of Transient Lingual Papillitis

The most common symptoms during an episode of transient lingual papillitis include:

    • Pain
    • Burning sensation
    • Tingling or itching sensation
    • Discomfort while eating
    • Increased sensitivity to hot foods

In general, the symptoms usually resolve themselves after a few hours or 1-4 days. However, there are types of lingual papillitis that are not transient and can cause excessive production of saliva, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. In some cases, if the infection has spread throughout the tongue, it may take 1-3 weeks to resolve.

Diagnosis of Transient Lingual Papillitis

It is not necessary to take a biopsy to identify transient lingual papillitis. A visual examination by a dental professional and identification of symptoms is sufficient.

Home Treatment for Transient Lingual Papillitis

Transient Lingual Papillitis
rinse with water

Typically, inflammation of the papillae and symptoms disappear on their own within 3 days. Here are some tips to help alleviate the discomfort caused by transient lingual papillitis: 

    • Rinse with salt water
    • Avoid hot, acidic, or spicy foods
    • Maintain strict oral hygiene, brushing teeth after every meal
    • Use over-the-counter topical anesthetics (not recommended for children, as the FDA has reported them to be toxic in young patients)
    • Consume cold or frozen foods to reduce the itching sensation.

When to See a Doctor

consulting a doctor
consulting a doctor

If the inflammation in the lingual papillae does not resolve after a week, it may not be transient lingual papillitis. It is advisable to visit a dentist if experiencing any of the following symptoms:

    • Fever
    • Swollen lymph nodes
    • Swollen papillae for more than a week
    • Recurrent inflammation (when papillae swelling comes and goes).

The oral health professional can help identify the cause of the condition and the appropriate treatment. 

Transient lingual papillitis, in most cases, is not serious, although it may be a bit uncomfortable. It is recommended to maintain proper oral hygiene, a healthy diet, and regular dental visits, as it will help minimize the chances of developing this condition on the tongue.

Contact us

If you have any questions about how children’s teeth erupt and fall out or other topics, you can contact us at Channel Islands Family Dental as well as our page on Facebook. We look forward to your visit and we will make a timely diagnosis. Our dentists in  Oxnard, Santa Paula, Ventura, Newbury Parkand  Port Hueneme will be able to guide you toward the best treatment to take care of your health and give you back your best smile.


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