Most people experience a sore tongue at some point in their lives. Usually, a sore or swollen tongue is not a cause for concern, but it can be uncomfortable and painful in certain cases.
There are a number of reasons as to why your tongue may be sore. Usually not a major health emergency, a painful tongue goes away on its own. Below are common causes that can contribute to your tongue feeling sore:
- Bites or injuries: Accidentally biting down on your tongue while eating can cause injury and swelling. For those prone to seizures, teeth often bite down on the tongue and result in injury.
- Oral thrush: A fungal infection caused by Candida, the condition often leaves painful white or yellow lesions on the tongue. Your doctor or dental professional may recommend antifungal medication for treatment.
- Canker sores: A small, round bump usually making an appearance on the tongue, inner cheeks, or inner lips, can make eating or talking painful. Canker sores are not contagious and usually go away on their own.
- Cold sores: Highly contagious, these blisters are caused by the herpes simplex virus and can appear on the outside of the mouth. In some cases, a cold sore can cause pain and a burning sensation on the tongue.
- Burning mouth syndrome: A condition that results in burning, numb, or tingling sensations on the tongue. The syndrome is often painful and can last years with no visible indications. See your doctor or dental professional for a more accurate diagnosis and treatment options.
- Geographic tongue: Known as benign migratory glossitis, the condition occurs when the bumps on the tongue, papillae, disappear and create a map-like appearance. Some people experience burning or pain that can be curbed with topical numbing medications.
- Tongue tumors: A sore spot or lump on the tongue, a tumor can cause swelling, numbness, pain, and bleeding. If you think you may have a tongue tumor, see your doctor right away.
- Nutritional deficiency: A Vitamin B-12, iron, or hemoglobin deficiency can lead to a sore, burning tongue. Multivitamin supplements and a proper diet can help alleviate the condition.
- Allergies: Reactions to certain foods, bug bites, and other allergies can result in a swollen tongue. A severe reaction can inhabit breathing and must be treated right away.
Keeping your oral health intact is key in tracking your tongue’s appearance, avoiding infections, and treating problems early.
- Brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste
- Use an electric toothbrush for additional plaque and tartar removal
- Replace brush heads and manual toothbrushes every three months
- Floss every day
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year
- Use an alcohol-free mouthwash if your tongue is sensitive or you’re prone to dry mouth
- Use a tongue scraper tool to better clean the muscle, but avoid aggressive scraping
Sore or swollen tongue usually goes away on its own with proper oral care. If you notice any changes on your tongue, unexplained inflammation, or persistent pain then see your doctor or dental professional right away.
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