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Dental and Oral Health Center

Lymphoid aggregates

10/03/2007

Question:

I read a question from someone else talking about having red bumps on the base of the tongue and I read up on what the doctor said he thought it was - lymphoid aggregates. I`m not sure, but I think that`s what I have. I have red bumps on the base of my tongue, but they do not hurt, itch, or burn. I have a slight coating on my tongue as well. I`ve had a cough for a while now and have been hanging out with smokers as of late. My chest hurts, especially after I cough. I pray that this isn`t an STD. There is no pus or drainage either.

Answer:

The problem with the words "red bumps on the base of the tongue" is that they are rather non-specific. Lymphoid aggregates of the tongue (also known as lingual tonsils) are usually found on both sides of the back edge of the tongue. These areas usually look lumpy with a broad attachment to the tongue and do not extend across the top of the tongue in most people. They typically do not hurt.

Another type of "bumps on the back of the tongue" would be normal structures called circumvallate papilla(e). This fancy name describes the largest taste buds in the mouth. Usually 8 to 12 pairs of these bumps can be seen forming a large V on the top of the back of the tongue pointing to the back of the throat.

If your bumps do not look or sound like either of these, or if they seem to be changing, you should see your dentist or a dental specialist to determine exactly what they represent. Good luck!

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Response by:

John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Pathology
Associate Dean of Dentistry Administration
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University