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How Do I Treat a Sore Tongue?

A paste of baking soda might soothe a sore tongue.
Eating yogurt can ease soreness from fungal infections.
Mouthwash may be helpful in easing the pain of a sore tongue.
A doctor should be consulted for a persistently sore tongue.
Over-the-counter medications may relieve a sore tongue.
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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2014
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A sore tongue is a relatively common complaint that can have quite a variety of causes. The first step in treating a sore tongue is to isolate the underlying cause of the pain or tenderness. Some of the more common treatment options include the use of over-the-counter medications or vitamin supplements, dietary modification, and prescription medications. Any questions or concerns about the underlying causes of a sore tongue or individualized treatment options should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Canker sores are potential causes of the tongue becoming sore. Salt water or vinegar can be used as a mouthwash to help ease the discomfort associated with the development of canker sores. Liquid antihistamines can be purchased over the counter and used as a mouth rinse to help ease tongue pain. Non-prescription medications containing milk of magnesia can be used to coat the tongue for a soothing effect.

A paste made from baking soda and water can be used to soothe a sore tongue. If the taste of the baking soda is not well tolerated, hydrogen peroxide may be used on the sore areas of the tongue instead. Applying ice to the sore spots may help to provide relief. Other items that may prove to be helpful include licorice, lemon juice, or aloe vera juice. It is generally wise to avoid hot or spicy foods until the tongue has healed, as these types of food could cause the pain to become worse.

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Thrush is a type of fungal infection that may cause a sore tongue. Although home remedies can often help ease the symptoms of this condition, a doctor should be consulted in order to determine whether prescription medications are needed. Consuming yogurt or buttermilk may help to ease the discomfort of a sore tongue and may also help to fight the infection. Eating honey or placing a tea bag on the tongue may help to ease pain as well.

A sore tongue may sometimes develop as a result of a vitamin B deficiency. In these cases, taking vitamin B complex supplements may completely take care of the problem. Simple blood tests at a doctor's office can determine whether any type of vitamin deficiency is present. A dentist should be consulted about any dental issues that may contribute to the development of tongue soreness or sensitivity, such as a broken or chipped tooth or cavities, which could lead to abscesses and infections.

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Discuss this Article

anon329389
Post 11

This is going to sound crazy, but every time I have a packet of crisps, my tongue goes yellow and sore as if I've burned it. Why is this happening?

KLR650
Post 10

An important part of treating any sore in your mouth is to leave it alone. This makes perfect sense and is reasonable advice for almost anyone, but I am completely hopeless at following it.

Anytime I have any kind of sore in my mouth, I have to constantly play with it and chew on it, if I can reach it. It's maddening. I know a lot of people do this, and I have no idea why. But the sores hand around longer than they normally would, because I can't leave them alone.

parkthekarma
Post 9

@lonelygod - Some canker sores come from the Herpes virus, which is apparently pretty common, judging from how many people get canker sores. It's not exactly the same as the STD version, but it's the same type of virus.

Personally, I only get them very seldom when I'm really sick. I had a terrible respiratory infection a few years ago and they popped out all over my face. The doctor called it "herpes", which kind of freaked me out. They went away when the infection died down. I did do the saltwater gargles, which helped. You have to watch how much salt, however, or it can really hurt.

horsebite
Post 8

@backdraft - There's nothing worse than that! Then you have that horrible feeling like there is loose skin hanging from the roof of your mouth, which there isn't, but it still feels gross.

I, too, most often do that with pizza. I just really love pizza, and I want to eat it right away. You would think with the 50,000 other times I've eaten pizza I would remember and not burn my mouth, but no, I still do. I guess I must like spending the next day talking funny.

indemnifyme
Post 7

@icecream17 - I've never had a doctor examine my tongue that I can remember (or maybe they did and I didn't notice.) But, every time I go to my herbalist she always asks to see my tongue and looks at it pretty intently.

Luckily, I don't get a sore tongue too often. If I did, I don't imagine I would be washing my mouth out with vinegar like this article suggests. I hate vinegar!

I know it's supposed to be really good for you. Some people even suggest mixing it in some water and drinking it in the morning for better health. But I dislike the taste and smell so much I probably wouldn't even drink it if it were the magical elixir for eternal youth. Ok, maybe I would then...

icecream17
Post 6

I was watching a program the other day and it was amazing that the doctor on the show was able to diagnose a variety of ailments based on the condition of the panelist’s tongue.

This doctor suggested that sores on the tongue point to vitamin deficiencies and he also suggested that it was also related to gastrointestinal problems.

It is amazing how much doctors can sum up about your health from just looking at your tongue.

mutsy
Post 5

@Backdraft- That has happened to me a bunch of times. If I eat something that is too hot I always get a sore on my mouth and tongue. It goes away after a while, but it is really comfortable while it is there. I also get sores if I eat something that is really tart like pineapple.

lonelygod
Post 4

@letshearit – Sores on the tongue and around the mouth can actually be caused by a variety of things. If you indeed have canker sores, and not something else, those in the medical world actually aren't sure what causes them. Doctors think they may be hereditary, or an environmental issues. Though while these ideas are sound they haven't been proven yet.

Some other things that you could try to avoid are lowering your stress levels, getting checked for food allergies, whether or not you have any vitamin or mineral deficiencies in your blood, or even changing the brand of toothpaste you use. Also, oddly enough, quitting smoking has been suspected of causing canker sores.

letshearit
Post 3

There are times when I get a sore under my tongue that really bothers me. I find that when I feel one coming on it is a really good idea to start rinsing with warm water and salt. It doesn't taste great but it does a really good job of getting rid of the painful spots in my mouth.

Another trick is to drink ice cold water. It has a numbing effect on your mouth which can make have cold sores around the tongue much easier to tolerate.

One thing I haven't figured out is what causes the stores in the first place? I take really good care of my mouth and yet I still get them. It's frustrating.

Ivan83
Post 2

I had a weird infection in my mouth for months. It created a very weird taste in my mouth along with discoloration and occasional pain. I tried brushing my teeth religiously, flossing, using mouth wash but nothing seemed to work. Finally I scheduled a special meeting with my dentist to see if he could come up with anything.

Turns out that I had an infected tooth which was spreading bacteria into my mouth. As long as the tooth was bad my mouth would be in bad shape too. I ended up having to get the tooth pulled and replaced with a fake one but it was worth it. The infection was gone within a matter of days after that.

backdraft
Post 1

I am terrible about taking bites of things before they have fully cooled. I am especially bad about pizza. As a result, about once a week I end up with a really bad sore on my tongue and I can't taste much for a day or two afterwards.

Now, I know that the best solution to this problem is just waiting a minute before I start eating. But lets say I repeat my mistake and end up with a scorched tongue. Does anyone know a quick and effective remedy, particularly one that can restore the taste buds?

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