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Canker Sores on Tongue

Canker Sores on Tongue

Canker sores on tongue are those pesky little things that can make your life quite painful. Although, the exact cause is not known, several factors can be attributed to their eruption. Let's find out more about how to treat them in this write-up.
Ashwini Kulkarni Sule
Last Updated: Jun 13, 2018
Did you know...
20% of world's population suffers from canker sores at any given point of time!
Canker sores, also called aphthous stomatitis or aphthous ulcers in medical terms, is a condition in which ulcers develop on the tongue, inner walls of the cheeks, inner lips, or even under the gums.
These sores unlike cold sores are not contagious, but are extremely painful. They may not spread from one person to another, but can spread in the mouth itself. People are seen to be struck by multiple sores at a time, some developing just when one seems to be healing.
Cankers sores mostly begin as red spots, which later develop into sores with a reddish-pink border and a yellowish-white center. Their diameter may vary anywhere between 1 mm to 10 mm, or sometimes even more. These sores are more common in women and teenagers, although they do occur in men and people of all age groups.
Minor sores heal in one to two weeks, however, the severe ones can take about a month or two to heal, and may also leave scars behind.
What Causes Canker Sores
There are no particular known causes of canker sores. However, canker sores may arise due to any of the following conditions:
  • Viral infections
  • Heredity
  • Stress 
  • Smoking
  • Spicy, salty foods.
  • Injuries due to braces/dentures.
  • Allergies to certain drugs.
  • Injuries to the tongue due to objects like toothpicks, toothbrushes, or biting.
  • Drinking high acid juices such as orange juice, lemon juice, etc.
  • Lack of essential vitamins (B12) and minerals (iron).
  • Hormonal changes during menstruation/pregnancy in women.
How to Treat Them
Canker sores heal on their own and usually require no specific treatment. However, the pain associated with them can be very uncomfortable, making it very difficult to eat. This is why various pain relief measures are undertaken. Treatment for canker sores on tongue involves use of certain over-the-counter medications as well as home remedies.
Over-the-counter Relief Measures
Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic that works against all forms of infections. Its application on the wound kills the germs, thus helps treat canker sores. It is available at the drug store, however, must be diluted by 50% before use. Apply it 3-4 times a day on the sores. A mixture of milk of magnesia and hydrogen peroxide is also an effective remedy.
Benzocaine
Benzocaine is the main ingredient in most anesthetic mouth gels. It does not have any antiseptic properties, however numbs the pain for some time. It is to be applied topically upon the canker sores on the tongue. Although, its effects begin to wear off after half an hour, it is not advisable to apply it every half an hour.
Salt and Baking Soda
Salt and baking soda are natural antiseptic substances. Take an equal amount of salt and baking soda and dilute it in water. Apply this mixture on the canker sores on the tongue for at least 3-4 times a day. You can also use the solution to swish, until the sores heal completely.
Quick Home Remedies
  • Take three pills of acidophilus in a day.
  • Crush one tablet of aspirin and apply it on the sore or let it dissolve on the sore.
  • Dab a little honey on the sores.
  • Use toothpaste without the ingredient called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).
  • Applying a mixture of lime and rock salt also helps to cure canker sores.
  • Dental amalgam fillings are one of the reasons for persistent canker sores on tongue. Hence, consult your dentist regarding its replacement with a different material.
  • Gargling with hydrogen peroxide also helps to reduce canker sores.
  • Warm salt water gargle.
Prescription Remedies
If the severity of canker sores on tongue is so much that the pain is unbearable, then it is better to take prescription drugs to cure the problem. These mainly include steroid mouthwashes or stronger doses of benzocaine. Consult your physician for these prescription drugs.
Canker sores on tongue are extremely painful and can make eating a traumatic task. Keep away from sticky and crispy foods (chips), that can worsen the sores. Stick to a simple diet comprising soft and bland food. If the sores show no signs of healing or seem to be recurring, it is important you consult a physician as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.