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Oral Health Buzz

Is the Sore on Your Tongue Serious?

Christine DiMaria

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.

Canker Sore

Canker sores are also known as mouth ulcers, and they appear on the gums, roof of the mouth, cheeks and tongue. According to MedlinePlus, if you bite your tongue, you may develop a canker sore. Genetics, stress, broken teeth, spicy and acidic foods and a burnt tongue may lead to canker sores. Make sure you're getting enough B-12, folate, zinc and iron because canker sores may develop when you lack these nutrients. This type of sore on your tongue typically goes away on its own within 2 weeks. You may want to rinse your mouth with Colgate® Peroxyl® Mouth Sore Rinse to soothe the sore and reduce irritation.

Children typically develop canker sores for the same reasons as adults, but parents also play a part, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you get this type of sore regularly, your child is likely to get it. Canker sores 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 pediatrician about medications he takes or foods he eats that may lead to frequent canker sores.

Cold Sore

A sore on your tongue may be a cold sore. According to MedlinePlus, 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 2 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 and eating utensils. It's possible for a child to contract a cold sore on the tongue if his tongue comes in contact with a sore on his face. Also ensure that he washes his 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, oral lichen planus has the potential to affect your mouth as well, according to MedlinePlus. 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 Health Care Professional

Consult with a health care provider if the sore lasts longer than 2 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, 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. According to MedlinePlus, a persistent sore could indicate of a more serious condition.

Learn more about mouth sores in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

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