Tongue Ulcers are open sores or cuts on your tongue and they can often be painful and raw.

Moreover, while you eat and drink, they can cause irritation in your mouth.

One of the most common types of ulcers is the canker sores which often arise for unknown reasons.

However, it is important to note that they can also be due to a number of several irritants.

Viral infection, injury to your tongue, or oral cancer are some of the reasons, ulcers form.

Treating the underlying cause can help resolve the sores, and in mild cases, OTC medications can help to alleviate the pain of tongue ulcers.

In some cases, improving your overall oral hygiene will cause them to resolve.

If you do not treat them, these can lead to complications like a secondary infection or the spread of oral cancer.

Let’s discuss tongue ulcers in detail.

Symptoms and Identification

One of the common symptoms of tongue ulcers is pain. This may also worsen if the ulcer comes in contact with an object like a toothbrush.

Moreover, some foods can also aggravate them, especially spicy or acidic foods.

It is important to note that these ulcers tend to be white and round in shape. These are typically a few millimeters wide and appear slightly sunken.

However, some ulcers have an area of redness around their outer ring, especially if the food or drinks irritate them.

Oral Symptoms

Tongue ulcers may accompany other symptoms are affecting the mouth. These are:

dental problems and tongue ulcers

Bleeding or bruising, difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing, sore throat, swollen tongue, and ulcers of other parts of your mouth.

Other Symptoms along with Tongue Ulcers

It is important to note that tongue ulcers may accompany certain symptoms that are related to other parts of your body.

These form infection and are as follows:

Body aches, diarrhea, fever, headache, malaise or lethargy, pain, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.

Symptoms that indicate a Serious Condition

In some cases, they may occur with other symptoms that may indicate a serious health condition.

Such conditions need immediate medical attention. Thus, these along with difficulty breathing, high fever, higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, and the sudden swelling of tongue or throat.

Causes of Tongue Ulcers

There is no single cause of tongue ulcers, however, there are a number of potential triggers.

You can develop them due to damage in the mouth that can result from:

Biting the tongue, injuries from dental work, braces or retainers, poorly fitting dentures, or burns from eating hot food.

Moreover, eating acidic or spicy foods and brushing your teeth with a hard-bristled brush can also cause tongue ulcers.

Medical Conditions Causing Tongue Ulcers

According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Services, NHS, these can also occur due to the following reasons:

Hormonal changes, medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs, food allergies, or high-stress levels.

Canker sores, herpes simple infection, oral lichen planus, hand, foot, and mouth disease, diabetes, and oral thrush are some infections that can also cause them.

tongue ulcers 1

It is important to note that tongue ulcers might also be associated with diseases like:

Autoimmune diseases like lupus, Behcet’s syndrome, Crohn’s disease, Inflammatory bowel disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Other Causes of Tongue Ulcers

Leukoplakia or chronic inflammation of the tongue, poor oral hygiene, tongue biting, or tongue injury can also cause them.

Serious Causes of Tongue Ulcers

Oral cancer and serious infections can also have symptoms like tongue ulcers.

For such conditions, you should seek a medical emergency immediately.

It is important to note that these can also be due to deficiencies of iron and  B vitamins. Moreover, according to Advances in Dermatology and Allergology, they can also be due to certain genes present in your body.

Treatment of Tongue Ulcers

Most often, tongue ulcers heal on their own. Researchers note that most of the lesions heal in about 4 to 14 days without treatment.

Though to treat mouth ulcers is highly unlikely, tongue ulcers tend to clear up on their own, with the help of different home remedies you can help ease the symptoms during the healing process.

You can soothe tongue ulcers at home by rinsing your mouth with clean water, especially after eating.

Using warm salt water. For this, mix 1 tsp of salt in warm water and gargle for 15 to 30 seconds Repeat the process at least 2-3 times a day.

Or you can use baking soda dissolved in water.

For this, add 1 isp of baking soda in warm water and gargle for 15 seconds.

Moreover, you can also try applying very cold water to the ulcer or sucking ice chips.

Medications for Tongue Ulcers

Medical treatment for tongue ulcers typically focuses on easing your symptoms while identifying and treating the underlying medical conditions responsible for your ulcers.

OTC medications can be helpful for the symptoms of your tongue ulcers.


You can also try using pain relievers like acetaminophen or numbing gels like benzocaine.

However, it is important to note that numbing actions can make it harder to feel the tongue.

Thus, before using the gel, make sure to consult your doctor.

Take care to avoid any further injury to your tongue like biting it.

Can Tongue Ulcers be Something Else?

It is important to note that tongue ulcers can appear on your tongue due to certain other conditions.

These are as follows:

Swollen Taste Buds

Swollen taste buds or papillae cause one or more of the taste buds in your tongue to become swollen and tender or painful.

They happen when one taste bud becomes damaged. Moreover, trauma from biting the tongue, burning from hot temperatures, or other troubling food can cause this damage.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

According to CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HFMD is common in infants and children under 5 years of age.

hand, foot and mouth disease

Moreover, it can cause mouth sores to appear after 1 or 2 days after a fever starts.

It is important to note that sores usually begin as small red spots in the back of your child’s mouth.

Oral Lichen Planus

This is an inflammatory condition that can cause a whitish, lacy rash in your mouth.

According to the Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center, most individuals do not experience symptoms. (additional information)

However, others can have sores or ulcers in your mouth. It is important to note that you might also experience symptoms that affect your arms and legs.

Cold Sores

Cold sore can occur inside your mouth, including your tongue or inside the lips.

They can occur due to an underlying medical condition that stays in your body.

A range of triggers can cause such outbreaks to occur from time to time.

Preventing Tongue Ulcers

In most cases, it may not be possible to avoid every cause of tongue ulcers. however, you can take preventive measures against some causes of it.

gargle with salt water

These preventive measures are as follows:

  • using a mild toothpaste
  • avoiding acidic or spicy foods that often triggers them
  • using a toothbrush with soft bristles.

It is important to consult your doctor or dentist in each case.

If you are experiencing tongue ulcers regularly, they can help identify and treat any underlying conditions that can help prevent further sores or ulcers.

Visiting your Doctor

If you experience regular tongue sores, canker sores, or multiple canker sores that appear at once, you should consult your doctor.

The doctor can help identify medical advice diagnosis or treatment, whether there is an underlying medical condition that might be contributing to these sores.

A long-lasting canker sore also requires medical attention, as it can be a sign of a more serious condition.

It is important to note that if poorly fitting dentures, damaged crown or fillings is causing ulcers in your tongue, then you should visit your dentist and get them fixed, according to Healthline media.

Potential Complications

Most often, tongue ulcers are no life-threatening and can be treated with the help of good oral and dental hygiene as well as topical over-the-counter medications.

If these ulcers are due to an infection, medical treatment for the infection can help to resolve them.

However, if you do not treat them in case of infectious disease, it can result in serious complications and permanent damage.


After the diagnosis of an underlying medical condition causing tongue ulcers. it is important to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional will design specifically to reduce the risk of potential complications.

These complications can be adverse effects of treatment, dental infections,  and pain.

It can also complicate things to secondary infection of the tongue to mouth and spread of cancer.

Final Thoughts

In most cases, tongue ulcers are not a cause of concern and are relatively common and can have a number of causes and triggers that are not life-threatening. It is important to identify your personal triggers and it can be easy to prevent ulcers from forming. It can be due to mouth cancer, vitamin B-12 deficiency, and symptoms include burning sensation. You can use sodium lauryl of red ventures company (for informational purposes only)

Certain home remedies can help ease the signs and symptoms or even speed the healing process. However, if your ulcers are persistent and do not heal or sore come back regularly, then you should visit your doctor for a diagnosis or treatment as it often can be due to an underlying medical condition.