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Mouth Diseases

Bigger Tastebuds

04/15/2010

Question:

My son accidentally drank hot water from our water dispenser when he was 2yrs. old. Now he is 11 yrs. old and there`s a small portion of his tastebuds near the front part of his tongue that looks bigger than the other tastebuds and whitish in color. He says they don`t hurt but I`m worried about it. Is this an effect of the burning incident? Our dentist told me to bring him to an EENT doctor, is this the right doctor to see?

Answer:

Your dentist is correct in referring your son to an ENT physician to evaluate the tongue lesion, if only for a second opinion and to have another set of eyes evaluate the problem.

Without seeing your son and based upon the history you have provided, the scalding that occurred on the tongue may have resulted in a significant trauma to the mucosa that has resolved with increased fibrosis at the injury site. Note that this is only a speculation - it may be nothing more than an anatomic variant (variation of normal!). Again, without actually examining this I can only guess about what you are describing.

Also what you are probably describing may be taste buds, but more than likely is the filliform and possibly fungiform papilla that occur on the dorsum of the tongue, and the whitish coloring is keratin and the result of the papilla becoming elongated.

Again, I can only assume what you are describing, and I am providing you with possible explanations in order for you not to worry.

Finally, the ENT physician may want to definitively diagnose the problem, in which case he/she may want to get a sample of the lesion and have it microscopically evaluated by a pathologist, to determine what is going on. This is a normal procedure to rule out possible pathologic problems.

I hope this helps.

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Response by:

Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
School of Dental Medicine
Case Western Reserve University