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The tongue is a muscular organ in the mouth that is important 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. Most people have experienced the sharp pain that comes from accidentally biting their tongue. Because the tongue shares mouth space with the teeth, it is not uncommon for a person to bite it while chewing. The tongue can also become injured if the teeth clamp shut on it during an impact.
This sometimes happens during contact sports or as a result of an accident, such as a slip or fall or a car accident. Seizure disorders, such as epilepsy , can also result in tongue injuries, or lacerations when the teeth bite down on the tongue 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. Tongue injuries, or lacerations, are common in children. Deciding whether to repair them with stitches or surgery depends on the age of the child and the severity of the injury, according to a study in the International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry.
The fungus Candida is present in the mouth, throat, and digestive tract. If the body is not able to keep the fungus in check and it overgrows, Candida causes a fungal infection. This happens more often in newborn babies and people with weakened immune systems. When Candida overgrows in the mouth, this is known as oral thrush. 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.
Most people have experienced a painful canker sore in the mouth. Known medically as aphthous ulcers, they may appear inside the lips or cheeks and under the tongue. A canker sore looks like a small, round, white spot with a red border, and it can make eating or talking painful. In most cases, canker sores will heal on their own. Treatments include over-the-counter topical pain medicines, saltwater rinses, or a prescription mouthwash. If canker sores occur more than 3 times per year or cause ificant pain, people should consult a doctor or dentist.
Canker sores are not contagious. 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 a person 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. Some doctors prescribe antiviral medicines to 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. Burning mouth syndrome is a painful condition that causes a burning, numb, or tingling feeling on the tongue. The pain may last months or years, but the mouth will not have any visible problems, such as sores or redness. Doctors cannot diagnose burning mouth syndrome during a mouth exam so they may have to base a diagnosis on symptoms alone. Glossitis means inflammation of the tongue. There are several different types of glossitis, but almost all of them can cause a sore or painful tongue.
This condition occurs when the tiny, finger-like bumps on the tongue known as papillae disappear in small patches. This in a smooth, red lesion on the tongue that is usually surrounded by a white border, giving the tongue a map-like appearance. Some people experience a burning or painful sensation on the tongue. If this happens, topical numbing medications or prescription cortisone medicines may help with the pain. The cause of geographic tongue is not known. There may be a link between geographic tongue and psoriasis , but people without psoriasis may still get geographic tongue.
It is not contagious and does not lead to other health problems. A smooth, red, flat area in the middle of the tongue is usually median rhomboid glossitis. It often causes no symptoms, so a person may not realize they have it unless a doctor or dentist finds it. It can, however, cause tongue pain, especially when eating certain foods.
Median rhomboid glossitis is thought to be caused by a fungal infection, so it is usually treated with antifungal medicine if the pain is bothersome. It is not contagious. The tongue can become inflamed and painful due to many different factors. Other common causes of glossitis include:. People who have a severe reaction to certain foods, insect bites, or other things may develop acute or sudden glossitis. This can cause swelling of the tongue, which may interfere with breathing. A study in Journal of Medical Case Reports found that atrophic glossitis was the only of celiac disease in some people.
Similarly, a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal discussed an individual who had a sore, burning tongue and was found to have a B deficiency. A tumor on the tongue is another possible cause of a sore tongue. A tumor may appear as a sore spot, lump, or red or white patch on the tongue that does not go away. Other symptoms that may accompany a tumor on the tongue include numbness, pain while swallowing, and unexplained bleeding.
Tumors can be either benign or cancerous. If anyone believes that they have a tumor on their tongue, they should see a doctor immediately. A sore tongue is usually not caused by oral care habits. Brushing the tongue can help avoid bad-breath odor, but aggressive brushing or scraping is not necessary and can lead to irritation. People should also avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes, especially if the tongue is sensitive or dry mouth is an issue.
Though most tongue pain goes away without an issue, people should not ignore any changes in the tongue. If a person experiences tongue pain does not have an obvious cause, they should consult a doctor or dentist. Tongue inflammation and pain can be a of an underlying condition or deficiency that needs treatment. Lie bumps or transient lingual papillitis refers to small red or white bumps that occur on the tongue and cause discomfort.
Learn more. Why is my tongue tingling? There are various reasons for a tingling tongue, including dental injuries, migraine, multiple sclerosis, and allergies. Hairy tongue is when the bumps on the tongue's surface get bigger, resulting in a rough texture, and a discolored and furry appearance. It happens…. A white tongue can be unsightly and cause pain and social embarrassment. However, the color of your tongue need not remain a mystery - there are many….
Why does my tongue hurt? Medically reviewed by Alana Biggers, M. Bites or injuries Oral thrush Canker sores Cold sores Burning mouth syndrome Glossitis Tongue tumors Good oral health habits and tongue care Outlook The tongue is a muscular organ in the mouth that is important for eating, swallowing, and speaking. Bites or injuries. Share on Pinterest A common cause of a sore tongue is accidentally biting the tongue when chewing food, or biting down suddenly. Oral thrush. Canker sores. Share on Pinterest Canker sores are a painful type of spot that may occur inside the mouth.
Usually, these will pass by themselves. Cold sores. Burning mouth syndrome. Tongue tumors. Share on Pinterest Any unexplained bleeding should be assessed by a medical professional. Good oral health habits and tongue care. Latest news Massachusetts outbreak demonstrates Delta variant's transmissibility. Despite targets, food manufacturers fail to make healthier foods. More evidence that a plant-based diet protects heart health.
Preference for sons could lead to 4. Moderate drinking may be safe for people with cardiovascular disease. Related Coverage. Medically reviewed by Daniel Murrell, MD. What you should know about hairy tongue. Medically reviewed by Stacy Sampson, D. What causes a white tongue?I want you on my tongue
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