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Mouth Diseases

Recurring lump on tongue

06/03/2009

Question:

I have alump that seems to come up on my tonngue at night when sleeping and then disappears as day goes on. It`s towards the front of my tongue, on top, at left hand side. In terms of colouring it`s bluish, almost looks like a swollen blood vessel. It`s been going on for about 9 months now appearing and disappearing but now becoming more frequent and during the night. I don`t drink or smoke. Any idea of causes or what I should do?

Answer:

What you describe sounds very much like a swollen blood vessel and, in particular, a swollen or dilated vein (or venule). The proper term for this is varix (some people know the term "varicose vein," which is often found on the lower leg). A varix is not uncommon around the mouth, especially under the tongue (like yours) or on the lips or cheeks.

When you sleep, more blood goes to your head and the vein may become a bit more prominent with fluid that can leak out into the surrounding tissues. As you awaken and become upright in the morning, the blood and fluid drain away more efficiently and the swelling becomes less noticeable.

You likely do not need any treatment, but have your dentist take a look the next time you are in for a check-up or regular visit to confirm my working diagnosis.

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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