One of the more annoying issues that can be experienced in the mouth is the common canker sore. They can occur anywhere inside the oral cavity, including the inner surface of the lips and cheeks, base of the gums, tongue and soft palate. Canker sores are triggered by a number of events ranging from chewing on the cheeks, emotional stress, viral infections and more. In short, they are the body's reaction to an adverse event in life. Some people experience canker sores a few times throughout their life and others have chronic breakouts that require an investigation into their cause.
The Causes of Canker Sores
It can be argued that the worst place in the mouth to have a canker sore is on the tongue. The tongue sees the most action and does the most work in the mouth by sensing taste, directing food and receiving sensations of touch. A canker sore on tongue makes doing any of these things misery. There are a few specific causes that create a canker sore on the tongue. Some are avoidable, some are not. They are:
- Acidic, spicy or salty foods.
- Changes in hormonal balance.
- Genetic inheritance. A canker sore-prone parent can pass this trait onto their children.
- Viral infections.
- A lack of vitamin B-12, iron and folic acid in the diet.
- Use of toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulfate.
- Physical injury to the tongue via biting, chewing, using toothpicks or vigorous tooth brushing.
Canker Sore Symptoms
The symptoms of a canker sore are a unique presentation, as it is always on the inside of the mouth. They are not to be thought of as cold sores as those are always on the outside of the mouth on the lip area, never inside.
Common symptoms are:
- Painful red spot or bump that turns into an open ulcer. There can be one or many at the same time.
- Center of the ulcer is yellow or white.
- Small in size, usually under 1 cm in diameter, but can be larger.
Lesser symptoms are:
- General feeling of discomfort or malaise
- Swollen lymph nodes
A canker sore on tongue takes time to heal, making consuming foods and drinks a chore until the pain goes away. The pain usually fades out in seven to ten days while the canker sore itself heals completely in one to three weeks. Larger sores take longer to heal.
Medical intervention may be necessary if the canker sores persist for no obvious reason. Tests can be run to determine if the sores are a result of allergies to medications, herpes infection and other potential causes.
A canker sore is not a form of cancer, although squamous cell carcinoma may present itself as an ulcer that does not heal.
Canker Sore Treatments
As previously noted, canker sores heal on their own with the pain lasting for up to a week and a half. A sufferer has the option of doing nothing and tolerating the pain, or using any number of over the counter remedies to alleviate the pain. The pain of a canker sore on tongue drives many to opt for pain relief because of the discomfort caused by eating and drinking with an ulcer.
The most simple remedy for treating a canker sore on tongue is found in the kitchen and medicine cabinet.
- A glass of warm salt water swirled around in the mouth may relieve pain.
- A half-and-half mixture of hydrogen peroxide and Milk of Magnesia soothes the ulcer. Apply the mixture to the canker sore using a cotton swab three to four times a day.
- Mix one half Benadryl to one half Milk of Magnesia and swish around the mouth for one minute or so. Afterwards, spit out the rinse. Do not swallow.
Stronger products are available if none of the home remedies are working. All of these are available without a prescription.
- Products intended for oral pain relief that contain benzocaine numb the canker sore, providing instant relief from the pain.
- Aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be used for pain relief.
- Carbamide peroxide solutions release oxygen on contact with the ulcer. This action cleans the sore, offering pain relief as well as antibacterial properties.
If all of the common remedies are failing, it is time to see your doctor for stronger treatment. Medical intervention is required for canker sores that refuse to respond to time or over the counter remedies for relief. Your doctor can diagnose the issue and prescribe medication accordingly. Some of the medications are:
- Silver nitrate provides fast relief and healing. Application should be done by a medical provider, but silver nitrate sticks are available on the Internet. There is a burnt taste associated with their use, but the canker sore on tongue pain goes away completely within a few hours and the sore heals within days.
- Debacterol, a combination of sulfonated phenolic compounds and sulfuric acid, chemically burns the ulcer. It works in a similar manner to silver nitrate and is only available by prescription.
- Various antibiotics and corticosteroids are available from the doctor for relief. All are used differently, but all provide quick pain relief and reduced healing time for severe canker sores on tongue.
Which Form of Canker Sore Relief is Right for You?
How you heal a canker sore depends on severity of the sore and pain tolerance. Having a canker sore on tongue causes difficulty in eating even the softest of foods, so getting rid of the canker sore quickly is key. You can start with home remedies and work on from there. It may be that you prefer to get aggressive and go for the strongest form of treatment in order to relieve the pain so you can resume normal eating functions quickly. Ultimately, there are plenty of options available to relieve the suffering of a canker sore on tongue quickly and easily.