Ask a Hygienist: Lie Bumps on the Tongue

In this segment of Ask a Hygienist, I’ll be talking about one of the most important body parts we have. The tongue is responsible for assisting us with speech, digestion, and protecting our airway while we swallow.  It helps us pick out all of the wonderful flavors in our foods and has near 5,000 taste buds!

Michele asks, “Can you give us good tips on those little sore you get on your tongue that seem to appear when eating too much pineapple or other fruits?  What is a good remedy?”

Those distinct red or white spots that pop up when we eat too much acidic foods or drinks are commonly called “lie bumps” and the old wives tale is that you get them to punish you for telling a fib.  It’s also common to mistake these bumps for our actual taste buds.

The technical term in transient lingual papillitis (TLP) and there’s usually no need to worry about this harmless situation.  We have several types of papilla on our tongue in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Many of us will notice the papilla ( blobs of tissue on our tongue that house the microscopic taste buds) get inflamed or irritated when we eat or drink too many things with a low pH.  Citrus is the most common instigator but some folks that are taking certain medications report them more often.  You may notice they are sore while others would only know they were there if they took a good look in the mirror.  Although they only last a few days, here are a few remedies that will give you relief:

  1.  Gargle with warm salt water.
  2. Drink lots of cold water or suck on some ice to reduce inflammation
  3. Eat a soothing food like yogurt or ice cream
  4. Avoid acidic foods like tomatoes, citrus and spices
  5. Use a soothing mouthwash with no alcohol
  6. Baking soda rinses like this one work wonders for balancing pH
  7. If you are really uncomfortable,  you can take a low dose of ibuprofen or tylenol

When the bumps keep coming back despite these recommendations, you might have something else going on like a food allergy, vitamin deficiencies, hormone issues or a reaction to a toothpaste, rinse or medication.   A good rule of thumb is when you can’t link the bumps to something you’ve eaten or switched up with your oral hygiene regimin, it might be time to see your doctor for a consultation.




Dry mouth is a leading cause of mouth sores and decay as well as lie bumps.  When you don’t have a lot of spit that contains proteins and minerals to coat and protect your tongue, your mouth can’t heal quickly.  This rinse uses baking soda to neutralize acids as well as xylitol to reduce bacteria without using alcohol or harsh antibacterials.  (order here)






If you have a dental question, I’m here to help.





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