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Painful Papillae of the Tongue

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space placeholder.What Is It?.
space placeholder.Symptoms.
space placeholder.Diagnosis.
space placeholder.Expected Duration.
space placeholder.Prevention.
space placeholder.Treatment.
space placeholder.When to Call a Professional.
space placeholder.Prognosis.
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space placeholder.What Is It?
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The small bumps or nodules of tissue on your tongue are called papillae. Your taste buds are scattered among these papillae. Sometimes, the papillae can become painful. Several papillae can hurt, or just one or two at a time.

Trauma is the most common cause of painful papillae of the tongue. For example, biting your tongue or eating something hot can cause this problem. Acidic foods such as orange juice and tomato sauce can make these damaged areas hurt even more.

Some people unconsciously push the tip of the tongue against the upper teeth. This can irritate the tongue. Grinding or clenching the teeth can also irritate the edges of the tongue.

Benign migratory glossitis (also called geographic tongue) is a condition that may cause tongue pain. It also can make your tongue more sensitive to spicy or acidic foods.

A painful tongue also can be a symptom of a condition that affects the whole body, such as:

  • Severe anemia
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Skin diseases
  • Yeast overgrowth
  • Severe dry mouth (xerostomia)
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space placeholder.Symptoms
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Your tongue may be generally uncomfortable, or you may have pain in one area of the tongue. Some people also may have swelling or redness. Other symptoms can range from burning to soreness.

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space placeholder.Diagnosis
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For the pain to be treated, the cause must be found. Your dentist or physician will examine your mouth and review your medical history. You also will be asked about trauma or other factors that might explain the pain.

Sometimes chronic skin disease is the cause of tongue pain. If so, you should visit a dentist with special training in oral medicine. He or she can help to diagnose and manage your condition.

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space placeholder.Expected Duration
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If a specific disease is causing your tongue pain, it will likely improve once the disease is treated. Pain caused by trauma will disappear when the area heals. Usually this occurs within two weeks.

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space placeholder.Prevention
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The most common cause of a painful tongue is trauma. Therefore, you should avoid food and drink that is extremely hot, salty or acidic. For some people, wearing a night guard (also called a mouth guard) can protect the tongue as well as the teeth. A night guard may be useful if you grind your teeth or have a habit of rubbing your tongue across your teeth.

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space placeholder.Treatment
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Treatment depends on the cause. Some common treatments include:
  • Smoothing any sharp teeth or dentures
  • Quitting a tongue-biting habit
  • Using mouth rinses to relieve pain

Other medical treatments can be recommended once you have a specific diagnosis from a dentist or specialist.

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space placeholder.When to Call a Professional
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If the pain lasts for more than one to two weeks or becomes more severe, call your dentist.

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space placeholder.Prognosis
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Often, the outlook is excellent. If the pain was caused by trauma, it usually subsides once the healing is complete. Pain caused by an underlying disease often will improve when the condition is treated.

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