We tend NOT to think about our tongue until it hurts. When it does hurt, we find out quickly just how important the tongue is for eating, swallowing, and speaking.
A sore or painful tongue may be alarming, but is usually not a cause for concern.
Most instances of a sore tongue are minor problems that go away on their own or need minimal treatment. Here are a few more common causes…
Most of us have experienced the sharp pain that comes from accidentally biting our tongue. It’s not uncommon for us to bite it while chewing. Our tongue can also become injured while participating in contact sports or as a result of an accident, such as a fall or a car accident. Seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, can also result in tongue injuries when teeth bite down during a seizure.
It may take several days or more than a week for the sore spot to heal completely. Gargling a warm saltwater solution may help ease pain and aid with healing.
Candida is present in the mouth, throat, and digestive tract. If our body is not able to keep it in check, and it overgrows in the mouth, it’s called oral thrush. This happens more often in newborn babies and people with weakened immune systems. It can cause painful yellow or white patches to form on the tongue and inside the mouth.
Treatment for thrush may include prescription antifungal medicines. It usually gets better about 2 weeks after a person starts the medication.
Many of us have experienced a painful canker sore in the mouth. Often they may appear inside the lips or cheeks and under the tongue. They are not contagious.
While experts don’t know exactly what causes canker sores, they think it may be related to 1) spicy or acidic foods; 2) emotional stress; 3) physical stress from an illness and/or 4) hormonal changes, especially in women
In most cases, canker sores will heal on their own. Treatments include over-the-counter topical pain medicines, saltwater rinses, or a prescription mouthwash.
Not to be confused with canker sores, cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and ARE highly contagious. They are spread via skin-to-skin contact and appear as fluid-filled blisters that ooze and form a crust as they heal.
Even someone who does not have an active cold sore can spread it to others. Many children get cold sores from adults who may kiss them, share a drink or utensils with them, or touch their face. Cold sores often appear on the outside of the mouth, but they can affect the tongue and cause pain, tingling, and burning.
Antiviral medicines can help lessen the severity of the sores and help them go away faster. Cold sores may return later, however, as the herpes virus never goes away once a person becomes infected with it.
These are just a few of the more common causes, but there are others that can be more serious. A sore tongue is usually not caused by bad oral care habits. However, keeping the mouth healthy and looking for any changes in your tongue’s appearance can be helpful in treating problems early. Although most tongue pain goes away without an issue, you shouldn’t ignore any changes in your tongue.
If you experience tongue pain that does not have an obvious cause, they should consult with us. Tongue inflammation and pain can be a sign of an underlying condition that needs treatment.