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What Is a Lie Bummp?

Christina Edwards
Christina Edwards

Lie bumps are small, tender, white or red tongue bumps. Although they were once believed to be caused by lying, this has since been proved to be erroneous. These bumps can be caused by tongue irritation, acid reflux, and even some foods. Pain medication and ice chips can be used to alleviate the discomfort of these bumps. While these bumps are not usually serious and they usually go away within a few days, swishing salt water or antibacterial mouthwash can help prevent infection.

Known scientifically as transient lingual papillitis or fungiform papillary glossitis, lie bumps are a common problem that can affect the tongue. These bumps are usually white or red, and they usually affect the top part of the tongue where the taste buds are located. They are also usually somewhat uncomfortable or sore.

According to a popular old wives tale, lie bumps typically appeared on a person's tongue when he told lies. Modern medicine, however, has since proven this theory to be wrong. In fact, these bumps are generally caused by tongue irritation.

Ice cubes can help reduce the inflammation on the tongue from lie bumps.
Ice cubes can help reduce the inflammation on the tongue from lie bumps.

People who chew on their tongues or bite their tongues often may also have problems with these bumps. Even some sharp, crunchy foods can irritate the tongue enough to cause these bumps, along with acidic, spicy, or sour foods. Indigestion and acid reflux can also sometimes cause bumps. Constant friction or vigorous scrubbing on the tongue can also cause these bumps to form.

Lie bumps may occur on the tongue.
Lie bumps may occur on the tongue.

Although they can be somewhat uncomfortable, lie bumps are generally not considered to be a serious ailment. They will usually go away on their own within a few days to a week. If symptoms persist longer than this, medical attention may be necessary. In the meantime, a few things can be done to help ease the discomfort of these bumps.

Pain medication can be taken to control the pain and inflammation. Some individuals may find that dental numbing gels and liquids will also help numb the sensitive areas. Ice chips or ice cubes can also be held on the tongue to help ease pain and inflammation.

A lie bump, or transient lingual papillitis, is an irritation and inflammation of the papillae.
A lie bump, or transient lingual papillitis, is an irritation and inflammation of the papillae.

Lie bumps can also get infected without proper care. When this happens, an antibiotic is often needed to help get rid of the infection. To prevent this, many doctors recommend swishing salt water in the mouth. Some alcohol mouthwashes can also help prevent infections on the tongue.

How To Get Rid of Lie Bumps

These frustrating bumps usually go away in a few days without any medical treatment. However, some solutions ease discomfort and encourage healing.

The belief that lie bumps are caused by lying is an old wives tale.
The belief that lie bumps are caused by lying is an old wives tale.

Focus on creating a healthy oral environment, cleaning teeth and the tongue throughout the day. Brush regularly, especially after eating or drinking. If food particles or acid linger, they could bother the spots. Floss as well. Food stuck between teeth contributes to plague and irritation. Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash both morning and night. This solution decreases germs in the mouth, cutting down exposure making it harder for an infection to set in. Avoid anything alcohol-based as that may exacerbate the situation rather than help.

Lie bumps may be caused by acid reflux.
Lie bumps may be caused by acid reflux.

During the daytime, periodically swish the mouth with a saltwater solution. Salt is a natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory ingredient. Wash away anything irritating and soothe the current pain. If the pain becomes severe, try applying a topical medication such as a numbing gel or canker sore cream. These over-the-counter medications could make the next few days a bit more comfortable.

Finally, eat a bland diet for the next couple of days to avoid increasing soreness. Spicy and acidic foods or beverages may worsen the experience. Try to limit daily coffee and tea intake, using water as the primary fluid source. Stick the tacos and chili. Instead, consider mild meals and snacks such as yogurt or a turkey sandwich.

What Causes Lie Bumps

Why this illness occurs remains somewhat a mystery to the medical field. People experience it under numerous conditions and with vastly different histories. Many groups, including the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, believe one thing in common: it is an inflammatory illness.

In the journal's 2017 study, researchers discussed the results of a lie bump study. While many people developed the affliction, a typical pattern or cause was uncertain. Patients demonstrated symptoms with little connection, and each patient required individual treatment. Their investigation did have one conclusion: the bumps may result from various triggers bothering the tongue's papillae. Located near the tip of the tongue, these small, raised spots act as sensory receptors.

Some people believe that diet significantly impacts lie bump appearance. When certain foods hit the tongue's sensitive area, they kickstart a flare-up. For example, acidic and spicy dishes are known to tease the palette. Too much seasoning may overstimulate the tongue for some diners, sending it into a reaction. Food allergies and sensitivity may also prove part of the problem. In addition, overindulgence in sweets and chronic acid reflux may also be catalysts. Many diners may not think sugar irritates, but it can aggravate the tongue's tissue. An excessive night of desserts could lead to lie bumps later. Acid reflux acts similarly. When the excess stomach acid enters the esophagus and mouth, prompts the tongue's reaction.

How Do You Get Lie Bumps

Transient lingual papillitis results when the body experiences inflammation. Something initiates the human defense system, designed to alert people of illness. White blood cell production increases, arming people to combat foreign invaders such as viruses or bacteria. These circumstances are not always evident, so physical signs make people aware of trouble. Usually, people may see redness, swelling and pain at the injury site. If someone, for instance, has a finger infection from a splinter or cut, the affected location turns color and hurts, letting that person know to see a doctor for aid.

Many medical professionals believe lie bumps the body's way of saying it's battling something. The exact trigger may not be known, but something, albeit food, stress or hygiene, brings about puffiness and spots. It is a typical autoimmune reaction in which physical zones react when nothing tangible is evident. The tongue enlarges with bumps because it thinks it's under distress.

Some circumstances are more evident than others. Trauma, for instance, such as biting or burning the tongue, could set this in motion. The tongue's physical injury, much like hurting a muscle, tells the brain trouble has happened. In response, lie bumps appear in the injury's vicinity. For others, something far less visible may alert the defense system. Conditions such as extreme stress or hormonal shifts, for instance, could put the body in fight or flight mode.

While lie bumps may not be serious, they deter people from living their day to the fullest. Usually, a doctor's visit isn't needed. Give it time, and adjust daily eating habits and oral cleaning practices. Reduce stress levels as best as possible and be patient. Inflammation is likely to go away soon.

Discussion Comments


I've got a lie bump on my gum. Now when I talk, it hurts.


I find that salty foods create a lot of the lie bumps I've had. I'll get one or two on the side of my tongue, but it'll feel like there are ten or twenty. If I cut way back on salt during the life cycle of a lie bump, it will usually fade away in two days. If I can't help myself, it will be more like three or four days before the bumps go away.


I have discovered from painful personal experience that the last thing you should do is try to squeeze or pop a lie bump. The pain can be excrutiating, and the bump usually flares up again. As tempting as it may be, don't go after a lie bump with a needle or your fingers. It will only make matters worse.

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    • Ice cubes can help reduce the inflammation on the tongue from lie bumps.
      By: volff
      Ice cubes can help reduce the inflammation on the tongue from lie bumps.
    • Lie bumps may occur on the tongue.
      By: Ars Ulrikusch
      Lie bumps may occur on the tongue.
    • A lie bump, or transient lingual papillitis, is an irritation and inflammation of the papillae.
      By: Sebastian Kaulitzki
      A lie bump, or transient lingual papillitis, is an irritation and inflammation of the papillae.
    • The belief that lie bumps are caused by lying is an old wives tale.
      By: yanmingzhang
      The belief that lie bumps are caused by lying is an old wives tale.
    • Lie bumps may be caused by acid reflux.
      By: bilderzwerg
      Lie bumps may be caused by acid reflux.