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Why Does My Tongue Hurt? Your Dentist Explains

October 29, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — demartino_team @ 6:20 pm

Man experiencing dental pain.Your tongue is an important muscle responsible for helping you eat, swallow, and talk. If your tongue becomes irritated or injured, you may experience pain. Most of these situations, however, are minor and are not cause for concern. Your dentist explains which condition you may be experiencing and what you can do. Here are some typical causes of tongue pain and what you can do about them.

Canker Sores

A canker sore is a lesion that can appear on your tongue or other soft tissues. It typically appears as a small white round spot with a red border, and you may experience pain when you eat or talk.

Hormones, stress, illness, or spicy foods can cause canker sores, and they usually go away on their own after a week or two. Topical pain medication or warm saltwater rinses may be soothing if you have a canker sore.


The fungus Candida in your mouth can cause a condition known as thrush if it becomes overgrown. This manifests as white or yellow patches on the tongue or inside your mouth that are painful.

Thrush is more typical in newborns because their immune system isn’t fully developed. It can be treated with medication and should clear up within a couple of weeks.

Cold Sores

Different from a canker sore, cold sores appear as a blister filled with fluid that will release and form a crust as the sore heals. Cold sores are highly contagious and are spread through skin-to-skin contact.

They most typically appear on the outside of the mouth, but cold sores can also affect the tongue, which can cause tingling, burning, or pain.


A tumor can manifest on the tongue as a lump, discoloration, red or white patch, or sore spot that doesn’t go away. Tumors can be painful, and some are benign, while others are cancerous.

If you suspect that you have a tumor on your tongue, contact your dentist right away for an examination.

Bites or injuries

It is common for the tongue to sustain injuries or bites from chewing or contact sports. Tongue injuries may hurt, but they will typically go away on their own after a few days. Warm salt-water rinses can be soothing while your tongue is healing.

Taking Care of Your Tongue

Keeping your tongue clean by brushing it gently after your normal home care routine helps remove bacteria that hides in it and also freshens your breath.

If you notice changes in the appearance of your tongue, or sores or lesions that aren’t healing within two weeks, contact your dentist for an examination.

About the Author

Drs. Jeffrey and Nelida Garcia-DeMartino complete your team at DeMartino Dental Group. The highly skilled dentists at our practice, started by Dr. DeMartino’s father, have been serving patients in Phillipsburg for over 50 years. Our reputation has been built on providing patients with personalized attention and outstanding dental care.

If you would like to contact our office, we can be reached through our website or by calling 908-859-5260.

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