Foliate papilla are crescent-shaped nodules or ridges that exist along the sides of the rear of the tongue. They occur normally and are not associated with any localized or systemic disease. Foliate papilla often occur in clusters of tissue, usually symmetrical on each side of the tongue. However, they can also exist on only one side of the tongue. Their shape, size, location, and number vary greatly between individuals. Foliate papilla are comprised of lymphatic tissue, and they are similar in composition to your tonsils. Because of this, they may swell in response to oral or upper-respiratory infections, but then subside when the infection clears.

One of the most common sites for oral cancer is the foliate papilla site on the rear sides of the tongue. For this reason, it's crucial that we check this portion of your mouth thoroughly and carefully during the exam portion of your visit.

* Since these are normal structures, no treatment is usually necessary.

* If there is abnormal color change, ulceration, or any other abnormality, a tissue sample (biopsy) may be indicated.