10+ Possible Causes For A Sore Tongue And How To Treat Them


If you’ve ever suffered from a sore tongue, you know how it can throw off your whole day. You don’t want to talk, you can’t eat normally and feel ill. You also may want to learn more about tongue problems even if you’ve never experienced them. There are simple treatment options you can do at home. However, if you find that they don’t work, you should see a doctor.  

What Foods Should You Avoid When You Have a Sore Tongue?

chips you need to avoid when you have sore tongue

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When you have a painful tongue, you should stick with soft foods that aren’t acidic. You may also want to stay away from sharp foods such as chips or rough breads. Foods that are hot and spicy are also not good to eat if you experience a sore tongue. Any of these could cause pain to your already problematic tongue.

At-Home Remedies

Many tongue problems can be treated at home. Swollen taste buds, canker sores, and other minor mouth and tongue injuries are treatable and don’t need a doctor intervention. If your tongue is bleeding, becomes more painful or swollen, has different colors not associated with eating food or white oral thrush, seek medical help.

Ways to Soothe Your Tongue 

  • Oral hygiene
  • Aloe vera juice; baking soda water
  • Milk of magnesia
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Saltwater, honey, coconut oil
  • Chamomile tea bags
  • Anti-acids, cold water, ice
  • Vitamins

Oral Hygiene


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Keeping up with your oral hygiene can help prevent a sore tongue. Not only will your teeth and gums stay healthy, but you will prevent too much bacteria from causing infections and inflammation in your mouth.

Aloe Vera, Baking Soda, Milk of Magnesia

Aloe can help soothe a sore tongue and mouth.  It is an anti-infective and anti-inflammatory. Also adding a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water helps a sore tongue.  It helps to adjust your body to proper pH levels. Milk of magnesia is a great soother for a sore tongue. It reduces acid and can help to heal the tongue.  

Hydrogen Peroxide, Saltwater

Hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic and helps rid of infections. Garling with it can help your sore tongue and also help combat oral yeast. You can use warm saltwater at well. Gargle and rinse to promote healing and reduce infection and inflammation.

Honey, Coconut Oil

Honey coconut oil

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Honey is a great soother and is a natural antibacterial. It can be awesome for a variety of wounds, especially in the mouth. You can also drink it with tea.

Coconut oil is a great soother and helps with inflammation. Coconut is also an antifungal, antibacterial, and has antiviral properties. Use the oil directly on your tongue to ease the inflammation and pain. You can swish the oil in your mouth and spit it out.  

Chamomile Tea

This tea is great for inflammatory problems. If you have a sore tongue you want to drink mild, warm tea, not too hot or you may cause more problems. You can also apply a wet tea bag to get the soothing benefits.  

Antacids and Cold Water

Antacids are for reducing stomach acid.  Some people get a sore tongue from acid reflux. You may also want to drink cold water or hold ice chips in your mouth for a tongue problem.

Vitamin Deficiencies


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Vitamin supplements may also be helpful if your sore tongue is from lacking in iron, zinc or B vitamins. Always take a multi-vitamin, especially if your family has a history of anemia or other muscle issues.

Cancer Treatments; Medication Side Effects

Cancer treats can cause a poor immune system; radiation and chemotherapy. Medications all have side effects. These side effects could cause a variety of issues including joint and muscle pain, and might affect your immune system. Be sure to take a multi-vitamin and more vitamin C if needed to keep your immune system healthy. If you have a sore tongue, avoiding spicy or hot foods is always essential, no matter what the cause is.

Is There a Need to Seek Medical Treatment for a Sore Tongue?

You should call your doctor or dentist if you see significant changes and your tongue is feeling worse.  As soon as over-the-counter treatments stop working, you should see a doctor. If the issues last more than a week and you still feel ill and have a painful tongue, seek the opinion of your doctor. Always keep a log of how your tongue felt to begin with and the progression (if it has gotten worse). If any changes in color or lumps occur, get help. It is unlikely that you have cancers of the mouth, but it’s not impossible.

Medical Conditions

  • Trauma
  • Inflammation
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Food allergies
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Anemia
  • Smoking
  • Burning mouth syndrome
  • Neuralgia
  • Lichen planus
  • Behcet’s disease
  • Moeller’s glossitis
  • Pemphigus vulgaris
  • Sjögren syndrome
  • Oral cancer

The cause for concern should be when the sore tongue symptoms don’t go away after at home treatments have failed. Here are the common causes and what to look for. Also, there are several that warrant you to seek medical attention.

Mouth Ulcers; Food Allergies

Mouth ulcers and food allergies can also cause a painful tongue.  Most of the time, you won’t need medical intervention for these issues.  Typically mouth ulcers can heal with baking soda water to balance the pH in your body. You can also soothe them by using ice, honey or another OTC remedy.  Sometimes ulcers in the mouth are because of a vitamin deficiency. should have a doctor check your vitamin levels. Food allergies can be serious as they can close off the windpipe. Having an EpiPen or an antihistamine can reduce swelling. You should also get blood work done to determine other allergies you may have.

Neuralgia; Lichen Planus; Behcet’s Disease

Neuralgia is nerve damage or irritation. Having a sore tongue could be one symptom of this neurologic condition.  It can also affect your throat ears or tonsil area. Usually this is a condition people encounter when they have throat or neck cancer.  Typically doctors prescribe nerve pain medications for this condition. B vitamins may be helpful to improve symptoms.

 Lichen planus is a condition is a chronic skin issue that causes itchy rashes with white patches on your tongue.  Most cases of this disorder cause no pain. If you have this condition, you may have white or red patches in your mouth and possibly burning when eating. If you develop pain with this condition medical treatment as needed. Behcet’s Disease is a disease is when blood vessels become inflamed throughout your body.  You may encounter a sore tongue issue with this condition however it is not always the case. If you develop sores in your mouth, they will look like canker sores and they will cause irritation and pain. The disease can also leave sores on your skin, eye inflammation, digestive issues, genital ulcers, and joint pain.

Moeller’s Glossitis; Pemphigus Vulgaris

Moeller’s is a condition can cause a smooth or bald tongue causing inflammation and pain.  It is usually from a nutritional or vitamin deficiency. Sometimes it can be a result of celiac disease. Pemphigus Vulgaris is also a rare medical condition.  It is when you have sore and blisters in the mouth and tongue. They can rupture and become more painful and infected.

Oral Cancer; Sjögren Syndrome

Your painful tongue could be a sign you have oral cancer.  This is unlikely but a possibility. If treatment at home hurts and cancer is high in your family, get to a doctor.  Sores that won’t heal, painful swallowing and chewing can be signs. If you have a lump in your neck or throat area are also warning signs.

Sjögren Syndrome is usually a rare autoimmune condition that causes inflammation to the salivary glands. People with chronic dry mouth can have ulcers. This condition can give you muscle pains.

Medications Can Cause Painful Tongue

Most medications come with their share of side effects.  It is important to understand the side effects before taking all over the counter and prescription medications.  You may need to take vitamin supplements to combat certain side effects such as dry mouth or a deficiency.

Treatments Associated with Painful Tongue

If you sore tongue you may treat it at home with remedies around your house or something over-the-counter.  If your sore tongue is due to a more severe medical condition you may need antibiotics, an antifungal or another kind of treatment as determined by your primary care doctor.  The list of medical treatments is below.

Medications for Certain Conditions

  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-fungals
  • Mouthwash
  • Steroids
  • Vitamin supplements
  • Medications to produce more saliva


Medications can cause tongue pain. You also could be one the verge of getting the flu or the common cold. Many times the tongue shows evidence of an infection or yeast before you have an issue with your entire body. Try the home remedies before you make an appointment with your doctor.

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