White Bumps on Tongue: Causes and Treatment

The color of a healthy tongue is somewhere between pink and red, and small nodules cover it. The nodules are important because they help us to eat, sense temperate, and get the taste of food. If you see these in the mirror when you are sticking your tongue out at yourself, then you are perfectly healthy. There is nothing to worry about. However, if you see your tongue covered with a coating of small white bumps, then there is a reason to worry about. Usually, the reason is not very serious. Well, you have come to the right place.

So what exactly are those white bumps on your tongue? Are they dangerous? Are they an indication of any other underlying condition? What causes them? And most importantly, how can we make them disappear? In this article, I have tried to list down a few simple points about the exact causes and treatment for these white bumps on tongue.

What are White Bumps on Tongue?

Some important points about these bumps are:-

  • Actually, these bumps do not surface newly, they are already present on the tongue by default.
  • The scientific name for these bumps is Fungiform papillae.
  • They are located on the side and top of the tongue.
  • Usually, they are the same color as the tongue and hence are not noticeable.
  • However, because of irritation or some other cases, these bumps may become white in color, grow or swell. These are the white bumps on your tongue which causes problems in swallowing food.
  • The main cause of the problem is “lie bumps” or “oral thrush” for which this condition is a primary symptom.

What Causes White Bumps on Tongue?

Now usually white bumps do not occur by themselves. They usually occur as a symptom for some other underlying cause or disease. The main disease, its causes, symptoms, ways to avoid them are listed below, and a few points about other probable diseases are listed below.

Lie Bumps

Some important points about this condition are:-

  • The scientific name is transient lingual papillitis.
  • Old superstition has that these bumps appear on a liars tongue, hence the common name.
  • It is a short termed problem.
  • Bumps become swollen red and discolored and they cause pain and discomfort.
  • They are common and usually disappear within a few days of appearance

Common symptoms for this condition of white bumps on the tongue is that it becomes itchy, tingly, uncomfortable, painful and swollen. However, under normal conditions, these symptoms must subside within a few days. If they do not do so or they get worse, then consult a doctor.

Some common causes for this condition are:-

  • Diets with a high content of sugar or acid. Spicy food can also cause this problem.
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Accidental injuries to the tongue like biting while chewing or talking, burning with hot food, and so on
  • Problems in the digestive system
  • Allergic food consumption

Some easy ways to treat this condition and avoid it are:-

  • Avoid spicy food or food with high content of acid or sugar.
  • Rinse your mouth with hot salted water to kill the germs
  • Brush your teeth after every meal until the bumps start to get back to normal
  • You can use mouthwashes or OTC ointments to kill the bacteria which causes it.

Oral Thrush

The main points of Oral Thrush are:-

  • Forms a creamy white layer in inner parts of the mouth
  • Formed when there is an overgrowth of a certain bacteria living in our mouth
  • The condition itself is a minor one.

The main causes of the condition are:-

  • Weakened immune system, like in old people and small infants.
  • Diabetes
  • Unborn infants get the infection from their mothers if they have the same infection in their vagina
  • Certain medicines
  • Oral equipment like dentures.

The main symptoms of this condition are:-

  • Creamy white cottage cheese like layer on the inner surface of the mouth.
  • Reddening or burning sensation in the nodules on the tongue
  • Loss of taste and bleeding from the bumps on irritation
  • A cotton-like feeling in the mouth.

Some ways to treat this condition are:-

  • Maintain good oral hygiene
  • Try to keep a good and healthy blood sugar level
  • Know the chemical content of the food you are eating.

Other causes

Apart from lie bumps and oral thrush, there are a few other diseases or conditions for which these bumps are a symptom. Some of them are:-

  • HPV– It is a viral infection. It spreads through contact with skin. It results in the formation of warts. Affected skin may belong to any region of the body like throat, genitals or mouth.
  • Cankers sore– They are small painful holes like formations inside your mouth which can form due to some other disease or injury. They are common, do not spread, and usually heal within a few days by itself.
  • Syphilis– It is a virus infection and a sexually transmitted disease. The symptoms start from a sore on the tongue.
  • Scarlet fever– The main symptom for this condition is reddening of the bumps on your tongue. It is a bacterial infection.
  • Oral Cancer– This condition is rare. In this condition, the bumps on the tongue become cancerous lumps. They bleed when touched and are discolored.
  • Fibroma:- It is a pink colored growth on the side of the tongue. Doctors remove it by surgery.
  • Cysts:- Large yellow colored cysts may appear beneath the tongue. They are usually harmless and disappear by themselves.
  • Glossitis– In this disease the bumps seem to disappear from the surface of the skin, thus giving it a smooth texture. Main causes include intake of smoke irritants and other allergy-causing substances

How to Avoid White Bumps Formation?

Avoiding these bumps completely might not be possible. However, there are some ways in which we can reduce the effects of this condition. Some of them are:-

  • Use a soft brush toothbrush so that you can avoid irritation in the bumps.
  • Using a toothpaste or mouthwash which contains fluoride also helps.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once per day to remove the food particles stuck in between
  • Visit your dentist regularly to keep track of your oral health
  • Try to avoid products containing tobacco and stop using alcoholic products
  • Eating a lot of green fruits and vegetables helps as each of them acts as a source for some essential nutrient or other.


I hope this article on white bumps on the tongue: Causes and Treatment has shed some light and provided an insight into the matter. Please do not forget to comment on your thoughts in the comment section.

Soham Choudhury

%d bloggers like this: