For most people, the papillae on the tongue cause no problems at all. There are many of them on the surface of the tongue that surround the taste buds. They are responsible for determining if a taste is sweet, salty, bitter or sour. These papillae are grouped around the tongue and each group is responsible for detecting different tastes.
Types of Papillae
There are four types in total:
- Fungiform, these are located on the apex and sides of the tongue and detect sweet and sour tastes.
- Filiform, these are V-shaped and create an abrasive surface to the tongue. They are responsible for detecting sour tastes.
- Foliate are found on the sides of the tongue in two groups.
- Circumvallate, these are located in a V formation at the back of the tongue. They detect bitter taste.
Causes for enlarged Papillae
Some causes for enlarged papillae are not serious, trauma such as biting or burning the tongue or eating foods that are too acidic can cause problems. This is especially true if the area becomes infected as a result.
Excessive smoking can cause the surface of the tongue to become irritated and thus create enlarged and painful papillae.
Medical conditions such as ulcerative colitis or other gastrointestinal problems can trigger these symptoms.
Canker sores can appear in the mouth for no known medical reason. These can however, be more prevalent during periods of increased stress.
Certain oral cancers can cause enlarged and painful papillae on the tongue. This may be the case if the sores do not improve after more than two weeks.
Treatment for enlarged and painful Papillae
There are a few common sense things that you can do to treat the problem and prevent it from reoccurring,
Stopping smoking will greatly improve the problem if the tongue is being irritated and also reduce the risk or oral cancers.
Rinsing the mouth with salt water or mouthwash if the tongue has suffered a trauma. This will also help to lessen the pain.
Taking vitamin B12 supplements will improve the problems with mouth ulcers and also cold sores. Iron supplements are also a good way to improve the enlarged papillae themselves.
In many cases, the problem is not serious at all, however If you find that the pain or inflammation on the tongue lasts for more than two weeks, or if you are concerned, you should always seek advice from your doctor.