Is The Sore On Your Tongue Serious?
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Is The Sore On Your Tongue Serious?

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A sore on your tongue is a nuisance. Causes can include the foods you eat, certain medications, broken teeth and some diseases. You can look for certain signs to determine when a sore requires a visit to a dental or medical professional.

Mouth Ulcer

Mouth ulcers can appear on the gums, roof of the mouth, cheeks and tongue. According to the National Health Service (NHS), you may develop a mouth, cheek or tongue ulcer from biting the inside of your mouth. Genetics, stress, broken teeth, spicy and acidic foods or a burnt tongue may lead to mouth ulcers. Make sure you're getting enough B-12, folate, zinc and iron because mouth ulcers may develop when you lack these nutrients. This type of sore on your tongue typically goes away on its own within two weeks. You may want to rinse your mouth with a mouthwash designed for mouth ulcers to soothe the sore and reduce irritation.

It is worth noting that recurrent mouth ulcers are thought to be hereditary as up to 40 per cent of people who experience them report it runs in their family, as noted by NI Direct. If you get this type of sore regularly, your child is likely to get it. Mouth ulcers occur more often in women. Limit the acidic or rough-textured foods that your child eats. If the problem is recurring, consult your child's paediatrician about medications they take or food they eat that may lead to frequent mouth ulcers.

Cold Sore

A sore on your tongue may be a cold sore. According to the NHS, this type of sore is caused by a contagious virus. Once caught, the virus lives inside your body for years, and certain triggers activate the virus, causing a cold sore to develop. Triggers for the disease include illness, hormonal changes, stress and sunburn. Cold sores usually go away on their own within two weeks. Over-the-counter treatments are available to help the cold sore disappear more quickly.

You or your child can contract a cold sore from touching something that the virus has contaminated, such as a towel, toothbrush or eating utensils. It's possible for a child to contract a cold sore on the tongue if their tongue comes into contact with a sore on their face. Also ensure that they wash their hands frequently; touching the sore may cause it to spread to other areas. Eating ice pops, rinsing with salt water and taking pain relievers can help your child feel better until the sore goes away.

Oral Lichen Planus

Lichen planus is an inflammatory skin condition, and those with the condition will most likely experience symptoms on the legs and arms. However, lichen planus has the potential to affect your mouth as well, according to the NHS. In fact, you may develop a sore on your tongue or on the cheek area, and the sore may feel tender and itch. It looks like white patches on your tongue or cheeks. The cause of lichen planus is unknown, but an allergic reaction or infection may be a factor. Visit a doctor for medication and for a prescription for light therapy to treat this disease.

Consult with a Healthcare Professional

Consult with a healthcare provider if the sore lasts longer than two weeks or if you experience a skin rash, fever, difficulty swallowing or drooling in addition to the sore. If you find a lesion, lump or ulcer on your tongue, and if the development of the sore coincides with the start of a new medication or if the sore is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a strange taste in your mouth, difficulty swallowing or deep cracks within the tissue of the sore, seek treatment from a medical professional. A persistent sore could be an indication of a more serious condition.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.