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Tooth Tourism Blog

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Common Causes of Tongue Problems

Tongue problems include pain, swelling, or a change in how the tongue looks, white lining, a split, covered appearance, or positioning off to one side. Changes in appearance of the tongue may be a sign of a primary tongue disorder or may be a symptom of other disorders.

Possible causes of tongue problems/pain include:

  • A viral ulcer or "canker sore" commonly appears on the tongue for no apparent reason.
  • Injury (biting the tongue) can cause painful sores.
  • An allergic reaction to food or medication.
  • Smoking will irritate the tongue and make it painful.
  • Oral sex or antibiotic side effects (such as thrush).
  • A "hairy" appearing tongue (hairy leukoplakia) is a complication of AIDS.
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Strong chemical toothpaste/mouthwash.
  • Very hot drinks/foods
  • Anemia
  • Cancer
  • Dentures that irritate the tongue
  • Oral herpes (ulcers)
  • Neuralgia
  • Referred pain from teeth and gums
  • Referred pain from the heart


Treatment depends on the cause of the tongue problem.

  • Ankyloglossia may not require treatment unless you have speech or swallowing difficulties. Surgery to release the tongue can relieve the problem.
  • Medicine may be prescribed for mouth ulcers, leukoplakia, oral cancer, and other mouth sores.
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines may be prescribed for glossititis and geographic tongue.
  • Glossitis and geographic tongue are treated by treating the cause of irritation or inflammation.

Need to find a dentist? Let do the work for you. Our Canadian medical professionals have traveled the globe to meet English speaking board-certified dentists who welcome the dental tourist (that's you!)

Contact today for more information on how you can find affordable dental treatments abroad. To speak with a Tooth Tourism representative call (toll free): 1-800-644-9124, Mon - Fri, 9am-5pm PST.


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