Tongue pain can happen for a variety of reasons. Some reasons, such as accidentally biting your tongue, are not cause for concern. However, there are other more serious issues that may be causing the discomfort.
Here are the most common causes of tongue pain and how to find tongue pain relief:
- Your tongue can suffer trauma from events such as bites or burns. Tongue bites are usually mild but can be more serious if it occurs during a medical episode or in a car accident. If your tongue is bleeding or has cuts, rinse the area with clean water and apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Consult a medical professional if symptoms worsen or stitches are needed. Your tongue may feel sore for a couple of days or weeks depending on the severity of the trauma.
- If you have white bumps on your tongue and or cheeks, you may have oral thrush. This condition, also known as oral candidiasis, occurs when an overgrowth of fungus spreads through your mouth. Symptoms may include white lesions on your tongue, cheeks, and other parts of the mouth that can be painful. Oral thrush usually occurs in people with compromised immune systems, particularly babies and older adults. Medications like inhalers can also cause oral thrush. The good news is that the disease is very treatable with antifungal medication.
Canker and Cold Sores
- Canker sores and cold sores are other culprits for sore and painful tongues. A cold sore, caused by herpes simplex virus type 1, is a type of blister that can “itch, burn, tingle,” and even leak fluid for typically seven to ten days. A canker sore is a small ulcer with a gray or white center that occurs inside the mouth. They can also form on the side of the tongue. Canker sores can last one to two weeks. While cold sores are contagious, and travel via saliva, canker sores are not. Both can be treated with ointments. Consult your medical or dental practitioner for recommendations.
Burning Mouth Syndrome and the Tongue
- Burning Mouth Syndrome, or BMS, is a “painful, complex condition often described as a burning, scalding, or tingling feeling in the mouth.” The pain is usually focused on the tongue but can also be felt throughout the mouth. BMS is common for older adults and can be more frequent for men than women. It is the result of damaged nerves and can signify other medical problems. Consult your doctor for treatment options if you experience symptoms.
- Your tongue may be sore if you have a sensitivity or allergy to certain foods. Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) is a “form of a contact allergic reaction that occurs upon the contact of the mouth and throat with raw fruits or vegetables”, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. OAS can cause itching and swelling of the tongue. It is important to talk to your doctor if you experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, hives, or vomiting.
If you’re experiencing tongue pain or have concerns about your oral health, consult your dentist and/or your doctor. Need a dentist in your area? Click here.