White bump on tongue may occur due to a variety of causes. Listed below are some of the common causes of white bump on tongue along with the associated symptoms and treatment options.
Causes of white bumps on tongue
White bump on tongue may be caused due to:
- Oral thrush: Also called oral candidiasis, oral thrush is a yeast infection caused due to infection by the candida albicans fungus. It is marked by formation of lesions on the inner wall of the mouth, cracks at the corners of the mouth, oral pain, impaired taste, and white bumps on tongue.
- Pregnancy, excessive smoking, use of oral contraceptives/birth control pills, presence of an impaired immune system due to underlying diseases like diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and cancer, etc., as well as the use of uneven dentures can increase the risk to developing oral thrush.
- Oral thrush associated white bump on tongue is treated with topical or oral antifungal medications.
- Canker sores: Also known as mouth ulcers, canker sores are one of the most common causes of blisters and white bump on tongue. Canker sores can also affect other parts of the oral cavity including the inner mouth wall, lips, and the gums, etc.
- Canker sores can occur due to a variety of causes, including an uncontrolled case of oral thrush or bacterial overgrowth; infection by different viruses; an impaired immune system; as an allergic reaction to the intake of certain foods; deficient intake of folic acid, vitamins, iron, minerals, zinc, and other nutrients; damage of the oral cavity soft tissues, often due to use of ill-fitting dentures, accidental biting, presence of sharp teeth, vigorous tongue cleaning, etc.; excessive consumption of citrus fruits like lemon, oranges, etc.; use of toothpastes with sodium laurel sulfate as an ingredient; and underlying conditions like Crohn’s disease and celiac disease.
- Canker sores associated white bumps on tongue can be treated via treatment of the underlying causative conditions; use of varied oral and topical medications to treat viral, bacterial, and fungal infections; intake of nutritional supplements; and home remedies like application of yogurt or a mixture of milk of magnesia and hydrogen peroxide on the white bump on tongue. Avoiding hot and spicy foods can help prevent irritation of the oral tissues as well as aggravation of the sores. Allergies are treated with antihistamines.
- Oral lichen planus: White bump on tongue may also be caused due to oral lichen planus, an inflammatory condition of the oral cavity that affects its mucous lining. Additional symptoms include formation of lacy white blotches on the lips, gums, inner lining wall of the cheeks, and tongue.
- Oral lichen planus can occur due to a variety of causes, including allergic reactions to foods and other items like dental fillings, flu vaccines, and medications for treating certain cardiac diseases, arthritis, and hypertension; hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections; autoimmune disorders; poor oral hygiene marked by buildup of plaque; genetic factors; use of ill-fitting dentures; and abnormal habits like biting the tongue, lips, or cheeks.
- White bumps on tongue caused due to oral lichen planus are treated with topical corticosteroids. In some cases, doctors may prescribe immunosuppressant drugs. Different causative conditions are treated as per set medical procedures. A good dental hygiene marked by daily brushing, use of mouthwashes, and flossing can help get rid of the germs and prevent the buildup of plaque.
- Leukoplakia: It is an oral condition marked by formation of elevated, irregular white bumps and blotches on the inner walls of the cheeks, the tongue, and gums. The bumps are usually not painful, but they may cause some discomfort.
- Leukoplakia is usually caused due to long-term irritation of the mucous membranes of the oral cavity, which in turn can occur due to chewing betel leaves, smoking, alcohol abuse, use of ill-fitting dentures, and oral abrasion by sharp teeth.
- The different symptoms of leukoplakia, including white bump on tongue, often clear out on their own in 7 to 8 days without treatment. Removing the sources of irritation often helps hasten the recovery. A prolonged case of leukoplakia may indicate presence of cancer. Such patients need to seek immediate medical help.
- Hairy leukoplakia: It is a viral infection and a serious type of leukoplakia that typically affects just the tongue. It is often observed in people with weakened immune systems such as HIV/AIDS patients. It is treated with antiviral medications. If the cells and white bump on tongue are benign, then they are removed via surgery or cryotherapy.
- Mucocele growth: Any split or tear in the salivary glands can cause leakage of saliva which then collects into white sacs that newly form under the tongue. This condition is known as a mucocele growth. The associated white bumps on tongue may cause discomfort and pain. The condition often resolves on its own. Persistent cases require surgical intervention to suture and repair the salivary glands leakage.
It is important to note that white bumps on tongue may be an indication of oral cancer. Hence, all cases of white bumps on tongue, especially those which do not seem to heal, should be checked by a doctor.