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Enlarged Circumvallate Papillae are a frequent occurrence for some people. The cause will often simply be physiological, and nothing might be done about it.

There are, however, other occasions where it could be a symptom of something deeper, especially when the enlargement has developed over a short period of time.

Here are some of the conditions that can result in enlarged Circumvallate Papillae.


Heavy smokers have been found to have a higher incidence of enlarged Circumvallate Papillae than non-smokers. The noxious smoke, toxins adsorbed and the heat generated can be extremely irritating to the papillae. This can result in inflammation and swelling of the papillae leading to an increase in size.

Viral Infection

Viral infection, which can also result in other painful ulcers of the tongue, can cause an inflammation of the papillae. The increase in the size of the papillae will usually be associated with the appearance of other symptoms like canker sores or after a bout of disease which reduces the body's immunity.

GI disturbances

Certain medical conditions like GERD and ulcerative colitis cause a lot of acid reflux in the body. This has an aberrant effect on the normal oral structures of the mouth, including the Circumvallate Papillae. Constant irritation over a period of time can lead to these papillae becoming engorged and even painful and tender to touch.

Improperly Placed tooth or sharp edge

The placement of the Circumvallate Papillae makes it improbable they are in constant touch with a normally placed tooth. However, a tooth that is out of position or one which has an irritating sharp edge can easily cause a chronic injury to the papillae. This kind of injury can be much more serious than imaginable as chronic physical irritation has been found to be linked conclusively to the incidence of oral cancer, in particular squamous cell carcinoma.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is one of the most prevalent kinds of cancer in the world. People of Asian origin have been found to be more susceptible to it, however it is found in high numbers all over the world.

Oral cancer can take root in the tongue as well and a sudden increase in size of the Circumvallate Papillae may be due to a tumorous growth from within the tongue.

This is something that should be investigated and not left to chance as even though it may turn out to be nothing more times than not, the chance that it could be cancerous should be eliminated completely.


The treatment of increased Circumvallate Papillae is to just reduce the irritating agent and then practice good oral hygiene.

A chlorhexidine mouth wash along with chlorhexidine gel used during professional oral cleaning could be useful. Smoking should be avoided absolutely so that the inflamed papillae have a chance to reduce in size and heal.

Any jagged edges or out of place teeth should be corrected. Extraction of the offending tooth may be necessary as well. Generally though the papillae become asymptomatic after some time and do not cause any trouble to the patient even though they may not reduce in size.

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