Sore Tongue


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By Medicover Hospitals / 03 Mar 2021
Home | symptoms | Sore Tongue
  • The tongue is a muscular organ in the mouth that is important for eating, swallowing, and speaking. A sore or aching tongue can alarm but is not a cause for concern. Most cases of tongue pain are minor problems that go away on their own or need minimal treatment.
  • Article Context:

    1. What Is a Sore Tongue?
    2. Causes
    3. Diagnosis
    4. Treatment
    5. When to visit a Doctor?
    6. Home remedies
    7. FAQ's

    What Is a Sore Tongue?

  • A sore tongue is any pain or discomfort of all or part of the tongue. Pain is a sensation caused by the nervous system in response to inflammation or tissue damage. If you have a sore tongue, you may feel a dull, stabbing, stabbing, burning, or tingling sensation. The tongue is mainly made up of muscles. A sore or painful tongue can result from infection, inflammation, trauma, malignancy, and other abnormal processes of the tongue tissues. A common condition that causes tongue pain is glossitis, an inflammation of the tongue that also results in swelling and discoloration of the tongue caused by irritants, infections, or other disorders.
  • Causes:

  • A common cause of tongue pain or discomfort is glossitis, a condition characterized by swollen tongue and color changes.Bacterial, yeast, and viral infections can cause glossitis. Other causes include a variety of irritants and exposure to very hot foods or drinks, spicy foods, tobacco, and alcohol. Many other inflammatory and abnormal processes can affect the tongue.
  • The most common causes of tongue pain include:
    • Injury, such as biting or burning the tongue
    • Irritation from braces or dentures, brushing your teeth too hard, or grinding your teeth at night
    • Swollen taste buds (enlarged papillae), also called lie bumps
    • Mouth ulcers
    • Oral yeast infection (yeast infection in the mouth)
    • Infections, such as syphilis, hand, foot, and mouth disease, HPV, and scarlet fever
    • Menopause
    • Food sensitivities or allergies
    • Smoking and chewing tobacco
    • Acid reflux
    • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
    • Medications
  • Less common causes of tongue pain include:
    • Vitamin deficiencies, such as vitamin B-12, iron, folic acid, niacin, or zinc
    • Oral mucositis caused by chemotherapy and radiation therapy
    • Burning mouth syndrome
    • Neuralgia
    • Lichen planus
    • Behcet's disease
    • Moeller's glossitis
    • Pemphigus Vulgaris
    • Sjogren's syndrome
    • Celiac disease
    • Oral cancer


  • During an examination with a doctor or dentist, information is collected based on symptoms and clinical appearance. Imaging may also be needed to aid in the diagnosis. Different imaging modalities include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography (PET). A diagnosis is made from the collective information. However, if there is no single sign or symptom to distinguish the tongue problem, a differential diagnosis is reviewed. A differential diagnosis lists all the causes of the signs. It is a systematic process of weighing the probability of a disease against that of other diseases that can explain the problem of the tongue. For example, a white tongue lesion may have the differential diagnosis of lichen planus, leukoplakia, or contact inflammation of the dentures. Each of these causes can be carefully considered based on diagnosis. Later, a treatment plan can be made.
  • For many tongue conditions that can be cancer, a special dye called toluidine blue has been helpful to help during the initial evaluation. Toluidine blue staining can help in the early identification of precancerous or cancerous lesions.
  • A more definitive diagnosis requires a biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure in which a sample of cells or tissue is evaluated under a microscope. Optimal treatment requires an accurate diagnosis.
  • Treatment:

    Medical treatments:


  • Bacterial infections, such as syphilis, can lead to sores in the mouth. Be sure to take the full course of antibiotics, even if you felt better.
  • Antifungals:

  • Antifungals, such as fluconazole (Diflucan) and clotrimazole (Mycelex Troche), are prescribed to treat oral yeast infection.
  • Prescription mouthwash:

  • A prescription mouthwash or antimicrobial mouthwash can help prevent infection as a sore tongue heals.
  • Steroids:

  • A doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation caused by mouth sores or another inflammatory condition, such as lichen planus.
  • Vitamin supplements:

  • You may need a prescription vitamin supplement, such as an injection of B-12, folic acid, or iron to help treat a vitamin deficiency.
  • Medications to increase saliva production:

  • If you have a dry mouth, there are recipes available to help increase saliva production.
  • Cancer treatments:

  • Oral cancer therapy normally comprises surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.
  • Topical gel:

  • Topical gels can ease mouth pain by numbing the area. This medication is available without a prescription, but stronger topical gels may require a prescription
  • Pain medication:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce the discomfort of tongue pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, may help reduce swelling. For severe canker sores, a doctor may prescribe stronger corticosteroids to treat the swelling and pain.
  • When to visit a Doctor?

  • If you notice changes to your tongue (such as color changes, lumps, or sores) that last more than two weeks, visit a doctor or dentist. You should see a doctor first if you have the following symptoms along with a sore tongue:
    • Fever
    • Rash
    • Fatigue
    • Bleeding gums
    • White patches in the mouth
    • Diarrhea
    • Inability to eat or drink
    • Blisters or sores on other parts of the body
  • Tongue problems caused by infections, such as oral yeast infection or syphilis, will probably require a prescription to get rid of the infection, so don't delay in making an appointment.

    Home Remedies:

    • Brushing your teeth with a soft toothbrush, flossing, and mouthwash can help you get rid of the sore tongue and prevent infection.
    • Aloe vera is known for its soothing properties for the skin. This also applies to the tongue. You can rinse your mouth with aloe juice several times a day.
    • For pain and swelling, try rinsing your mouth with a mixture of warm water and baking soda is helpful.
    • Applying small amounts of milk of magnesia, an acid neutralizer, to a sore tongue can help relieve pain and promote healing.
    • Gargling with salt water is another way to reduce pain, inflammation, and prevent infection
    • You can rub some honey directly on the sore area several times a day or have a hot tea with honey.
    • Ice has numbing properties, so drinking ice water or sucking on an ice cube or popsicle can help relieve tongue pain, including pain caused by dry mouth or burning mouth.
    • Antacids are used to neutralize stomach acid and can help relieve burning or sore tongue, especially if it is caused by acid reflux.

    Frequently Asked Questions:

    If your tongue hurts, it can be quite difficult to ignore. You may be bothered to talk or eat, and you may be concerned that something is very wrong. The good news is that most causes of tongue pain are not a cause for concern. These are some of the most common causes, as well as when you should see a doctor.
    Some of the more common causes of tongue pain include mouth ulcers, cold sores, bites, and burns.
    Some of the most common causes of tongue pain are canker sores, cold sores, bites, and burns. In some cases, pain that originates from other sources (such as cardiac angina or problems with the teeth and/or jaws) can be experienced on the tongue, even though the tongue itself is normal.


  • Carcinoma of the tongue -
  • Oral side‐effects -
  • Acute enlargement of the tongue-