Sore Tongue- No Fun!

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
December 10, 2020

A young woman sticking out her tongue looking in the mirror

Does your tongue ever feel sore? That’s definitely no fun! But if you understand what could cause the soreness, you can then take steps to make your tongue feel better, and perhaps even prevent that soreness from recurring.

Here are some of the main reasons why people experience soreness in the tongue. If your symptoms are severe, they aren’t going away, or you aren’t sure about what’s causing them, be sure to consult with your dentist.

You Bit or Burned Your Tongue

Trauma is one reason why tongue soreness occurs. Let’s say that you accidentally bit down on your tongue while eating. Hey, we’ve all done it! Soreness afterwards is normal. But before you know it, it will go away, which is good news.

Other forms of trauma include burning your tongue by eating or drinking something that’s too hot, especially if the burn causes a blister. Ouch! Once your tongue heals up, though, the discomfort should go away.

There’s Inflammation or an Infection

Certain infections might lead to a sore tongue. One example is oral thrush (a.k.a. a yeast infection in your mouth). How does this type of infection occur? Put simply, there’s a certain amount of the Candida fungus in your mouth, but when there’s an overgrowth of it, such as when your immune system is compromised, that’s when it’s considered an infection. You’ll likely notice white or yellow patches in your mouth, such as on your tongue, and this is when your dentist can step in and help by prescribing an antifungal medication that will get that fungus under control.

Inflammation may also cause your tongue to feel sore. The term for inflammation of the tongue is glossitis, and there are three types: acute, chronic, and atrophic. What could cause this? Well, there are many causes, such as allergic reactions and underlying health problems, so your dentist will need to work on figuring out the cause to determine the appropriate treatment.  

Plus, if the taste buds or the papillae on your tongue become swollen or enlarged, you might feel discomfort. Many factors can lead to swollen taste buds, such as acid reflux, GERD, food allergy or sensitivity, injuries to your tongue, sour or spicy foods, smoking, and infections. If the issue doesn’t resolve on its own in a few days, it’s a great idea to let your dentist know. 

You’ve Developed Sores on the Tongue

Pain on a particular spot on your tongue might indicate that you have a canker sore, which appears as a round or oval spot that’s yellow or white in the middle and red around its border. There are a few reasons why these sores develop. For example, they might be caused by certain foods, or they might develop when you accidentally bite your tongue. Hormonal changes, stress, and anxiety may even play a role. Thankfully, they typically resolve on their own.  

Another type of sore that can cause tongue pain is the cold sore that can develop when you’ve been infected with the herpes simplex virus. Unlike canker sores, these are contagious, so take care to avoid spreading the virus to others. But, wait, don’t cold sores appear on the lips? Yes, but the herpes virus can also lead to blisters on the tongue, gums, inside of the cheeks, or roof of the mouth too. Talk to your doctor or dentist about the best strategy for treating sores when they occur, and preventing future outbreaks.

What Can You Do About a Sore Tongue?

• Talk to your dentist about over-the-counter medications that would be a good idea for controlling the pain in your tongue.

• Avoiding alcohol and quitting  smoking is wise if you have a sore tongue. When it comes to foods and drinks that are best avoided, they include anything that’s hard, spicy, acidic, salty, or hot, as these can further irritate an already uncomfortable tongue

• You might discover that switching to a toothpaste that doesn’t use sodium lauryl sulphate (also known as SLS) helps your tongue feel better.

• Although brushing your tongue is part of a smart oral hygiene routine, be gentle and use a soft bristle toothbrush.

Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About Your Tongue!

Again, these are just a few of the potential causes of a sore tongue, so if you’re experiencing symptoms that aren’t going away, it’s best to see your dentist to figure out why. Also, if your tongue changes in appearance, or if it’s often sore or painful and you don’t know why, don’t be afraid to talk openly with your dentist about it. Although there are many causes of tongue soreness that will resolve on their own, there are also more serious conditions, such as cancer, that can lead to sores, lumps, and pain.

One final note: by signing up for the right dental insurance, you never have to worry about being able to afford checkups that include taking a look not only at your teeth and gums, but also at other areas of your mouth, including your tongue.



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