Having a sore tongue can be very hard to not pay attention to. It can also be very worrisome especially when you speak or eat but actually, it shouldn’t be a reason for concern.
Symptoms of a Sore Tongue
Alongside soreness, one may also notice:
o small bumps
o white or red patches (raised areas)
o burning sensation
Practicing Good Oral Hygiene can prevent so many conditions that affects the tongue. Though, there are several home remedies put in place that can ease off soreness on the tongue depending on the cause.
If the soreness or pain lasts for more than two weeks or develops other distressing symptoms, it is advisable one see a doctor.
Causes of Sore Tongue
Possible causes of Sore Tongue include:
Biting down hard on one’s tongue can be intensely painful as well as eating something very hot which in turn can burn your tongue and cause blisters. Grinding or clenching your teeth can cause pain on the outer edges of your tongue.
Whatsoever the cause of the trauma, injury to one’s tongue may cause soreness that only feels comfortable when the harm fully heals.
One may develop enlarged papillae on the tongue. These white or red bumps are sometimes referred to as “lie bumps or transient lingual papillitis” which means one has swollen taste buds which tends to be very painful and then clear up in a few days on their own.
Oral thrush is a type of yeast infection that may cause tongue pain. Symptoms are white patches (that look like cottage cheese on your tongue). This infection is common mostly in babies and older adults, especially those who wear dentures (artificial teeth), those who use steroid inhalers to manage their asthma condition or those whose immune systems are weakened. One may also develop oral thrush if one just finished taking antibiotics.
Other infections that may also cause a sore tongue include diseases like:
· Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
· Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
One’s tongue pain may be focused on a specific area which is often varies in colours white, red, yellow or gray.
These spots develop due to:
v Tongue bite or other injury
v Eating something hard or sharp
v stress or anxiety
v Eating of certain foods
v Quiting smoking
v Hormonal changes
Ulcers take a week or two to heal generally with no treatment but one may take over-the-counter pain medications to help ease off the pain. One may also avoid eating spicy foods that may irritate the tongue further.
Food sensitivity or allergy
There are some kind of food that make one’s tongue hurt. One may also have a condition known as Oral Allergy Syndrome also known as Pollen-Food Syndrome that is most often caused by raw fruits, vegetables, and certain tree nuts.
Along with having a sore tongue, one may experience:
§ An itchy mouth
§ A scratchy throat
§ Lips, mouth or tongue swelling
Oral allergy syndrome is commonly found more in older children, teens, and younger adults. If one’s reaction is very serious, taking an epinephrine auto-injector should be the next line of action.
Smoking and as well quitting smoking can cause pain in the tongue. Smoking often puts one at a higher risk of developing mouth and throat cancer.
Other problems that could arise from smoking include:
· Stained teeth
· Bad breath
· Tooth decay and loss
· Hairy tongue from bacteria and yeast growth
· Brown spots on your gums
· Thickened and pale or white palate, or roof of your mouth
Stopping smoking today can reduce one’s risk of developing oral cancer by half within five years.
Less common causes include:
Vitamin Deficiency and Anaemia:
One may have a sore tongue if the body is lacking Vitamin B-12 or iron (folate). If you’re deficient in vitamin B-12, your tongue becomes beefy red in colour. Low levels of zinc can also cause a burning tongue.
Other symptoms of Vitamin Deficiencies include:
§ Irregular heartbeats
§ Unintentional weight loss
§ Weakness of the muscles
§ Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
Vitamin deficiencies generally grow for a long period of time ranging from several months to years. Treatment arising from this cause include eating a well-balanced diet, taking supplements and receiving vitamin injections at times.
Some studies have shown that taking of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like naproxen (Aleve) or beta-blockers may make one’s tongue sore by causing ulcers. Mouthwashes may also cause irritation to the tongue and make it sore.
This is a rare cause of tongue pain is oral cancer. Symptoms include pain with a lump or sore that doesn’t easily go away. It is advisable one goes to see a doctor for a check-up.
Other symptoms of oral cancer include:
v Painful chewing and swallowing
v Loose teeth
v Sores that bleed and won’t heal
v Thickening of the skin lining of the mouth
Oral cancer may not experience pain as one of the early symptoms so it’s always advisable to consult your doctor if you feel a lump even without pain for two weeks or more.
Preventive methods for a sore tongue include:
This involves brushing the teeth with a soft toothbrush, flossing, and using a mouthwash to help get rid of a sore tongue and prevent infection. Also, using a toothpaste that doesn’t contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate helps relieve soreness.
Avoid eating spicy and irritating foods
Spicy and acidic foods (like pineapple, lemon, and tomato) can worsen tongue soreness. Avoid these foods till the soreness heals. During this period, eat more soft and mild foods.
Treatment of a Sore Tongue
Treatment options include:
Aloe Vera is known for soothing the skin. This is also applicable to the tongue. Rinse your mouth with aloe juice few times a day.
Rinse your mouth with a mixture of warm water and baking soda (1 teaspoon per 1/2 cup of water) to reduce pain and swelling. A paste can also be made out of the baking soda and water and then applied to the sore area.
Milk gotten from magnesia is an acid neutralizer that helps relieve pain and promote healing. It can be used on the tongue.
Hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic that can treat an infection or sore inside one’s mouth with only 3% usage of hydrogen peroxide and water (equal parts peroxide to water). The concentration should be properly diluted.
The affected area should be lightly pressed using a cotton swab.
Then, wait for a few seconds and rinse your mouth with warm water.
Gargling salt water is another way to lower the level of pain, inflammation, and prevent infection.
Make a mixture of a teaspoon of salt and a cup of warm water, move it around your mouth, then gargle and spit it out.
Honey is another natural antibacterial and studies have shown it to be very effective in treating different kinds of wounds or injury.
Rub a little bit of honey directly on the sore area a few times daily or you can as well as drink a warm tea mixed with honey.
Coconut oil may possess the ability to heal a sore tongue because of its antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral characteristics.
Using a cotton ball, apply the coconut oil directly to the sore area and then rub it mildly or better still move it around your mouth and spit it out. This is referred to as “oil pulling”.
Ice, Ice Pops and Cold Water:
Ice has numbing properties, so drinking ice-cold water or gargling on an ice cube or ice pop can help relieve the soreness including soreness caused by dry mouth or a burning mouth.
Over The Counter (OTC) treatments:
Visiting a local drugstore for over the counter (OTC) topical treatments that work by covering and protecting the tongue from getting irritated the more.
Benzocaine which could be Orabase, Zilactin-B.
OTC Hydrogen Peroxide rinses which could be Peroxyl or Orajel.
If vitamin deficiency is the cause of your tongue soreness, then taking a multivitamin or a vitamin B complex supplement should do the trick. You can as well consult a doctor before taking any of the vitamin supplements.
When to see a doctor
Visit a doctor or dentist if you notice changes in your tongue such as; changes in color, bumps, or sores that last for more than two weeks.
Along with having a sore tongue, if you have other symptoms such as:
v Bleeding gums
v White patches in the mouth
v Inability to eat or drink
v Blisters or sores on other parts of the body
A doctor can also find out if one’s tongue soreness is caused by an underlying medical condition, or if one just need to make some changes to lifestyle such as oral hygiene routine. Tests can also be carried out to rule out less common causes of tongue soreness like Vitamin deficiency and oral cancer.
Issues of the tongue caused by infections like oral thrush or syphilis will likely require a prescription to get rid of the infection, so make haste in seeing a doctor.
A sore tongue isn’t normally too serious and may even heal on its own within two weeks. However, one can still try a few home remedies to ease the pain as you gradually heal.
Home remedies may also help with the symptoms of a severe medical condition such as oral thrush and vitamin deficiencies as part of the medical treatment solutions recommended by a doctor.