When a person has little bumps that look like skin tags on the underside of their tongue, they may worry about whether or not they are healthy. These bumps are called plica fimbriata, and they can sometimes get caught in teeth. However, they are completely normal and cannot cause cancer or endanger oral hygiene or the health of the tongue.
Located on the underside of the tongue, the plica fimbriata are mucosal folds that run laterally on either side of the lingual frenulum. They may also have fringe-like extensions that resemble skin tags. The plica are actually remnants of the tongue's developmental and growth process that were not completely reabsorbed by the body.
The plica can occasionally become irritated or enlarged by poor oral hygiene, eating spicy food, or allergic reactions. When this happens, they are at a higher risk of being accidentally bit during chewing and may bleed. Infections may also develop if a calcified substance, sometimes called a salivary stone, gets stuck in one of the ducts that open in the plica.
If you notice pain, swelling, redness, or oozing around your plica, call your doctor right away. These infections often clear up with a round of antibiotics. If you have a tag that doesn't go away with at-home treatment, schedule an appointment with your doctor or dentist to get it looked at. They can help you determine if it is a symptom of a more serious condition, such as squamous cell carcinoma.