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Canker Sore On The Tongue

This is a picture of what canker sore on the tongue looks like. Here are the common causes and treatment of canker sore or mouth ulcer affecting your tongue. Have a question About canker sores? Ask them below. 

Canker sore on the tongue.Canker sore on the tongue.

Canker sore on the tongue can be very painful, especially if it is large or multiple in number. 

These oval shaped, shallow white sores with a red rim are very common. Some studies report that up to 60 percent of people will get these mouth ulcers at a point in their life time. 

Some people do get cancer more often than others and these are referred to as Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis (RAS).

Do you or your loved one currently have canker sore affecting the tongue? Below are things you may want to know and how to cure canker sore on the tongue fast. 

Causes of Canker Sore On The Tongue

The exact cause of canker sore on the tongue or indeed anywhere in the mouth is not known. 

What we never know is that canker sores are seen more often if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Stress . During an increased period of stress - around exams, or job interviews or increased work responsibilities, many people find that they develop these ulcers in their mouths and sometimes only on the tongue. Is that you? 
  • Hormonal Changes . Aphthous ulcers or canker sores affect more women than men. Many women would develop canker sores around the time of their menstruation or frequently around the early phase of menopause. 
  • Consumption of Irritating Food Items . For some, exposure to irritating foods or drinks such as highly concentrated coffee, acidic foods, certain fruits like tomatoes or lemon, or super hot foods cause them to develop ulcers on their tongue.
  • Poor Nutrition . Lack of vitamins like B12, folic acid, iron, and zinc.
  • Use of Certain Medications . Some drugs can cause immediate irritation of the tongue. Such drugs include gold (used in the treatment of certain forms of arthritis and immune disease), steroid (even though we use steroids to treat canker sores as well), aspirin, sulfa containing drugs, certain types of blood pressure pills and many more. 
  • Periodic Fever, Aphthous Stomatitis, Pharyngitis And Adenitis (PFAPA) Syndrome.   PFAPA syndrome, also called periodic fever syndrome, is a condition commonly seen in children and could continue into adulthood, where they develop fever suddenly, reaching between 38.5 and 41ºC with sore throat and a few days later, the fever is followed by canker sore and swollen neck glands. The fever lasts for about a week and then gets bitten.
  • Helicobacter Pylori Infection . If you get repeated canker sores, it may be useful to have you tested for H. pylori - this is a bacteria that is found in the gut of many people and a heavy growth could cause recurrent mouth ulcers. You can be diagnosed for this infection with a simple stool or breathing test. 
  • HIV / AIDS . HIV infection leading to AIDs can cause cancer sores too.
  • Oral cancer . Very rarely, an ulcer in the mouth could be due to cancer of the oral cavity. That is why doctors usually advise that if your cancer persists for more than 3 weeks, come back to see your doctor. Most mouth ulcers will disappear with or without treatment in this time frame (3 weeks). Some could last for 6 weeks, but by the 3 weeks' timeline, we seemed to do something different. Please it is very important not to walk away from this page thinking that ulcer in your mouth is oral cancer. Such can only be proven with a biopsy, if it fails to respond to treatment

Symptoms of Canker Sore

Canker sore of the tongue or indeed of anywhere in the mouth usually starts as a slight irritation or bruising at the spot where it is developing. This then grows in size and takes on an oval shape. 

The edge of the ulcer is often very well defined with red border. 

Pain of varying degrees then develops and this is when most people seek help. 

Although most Canker sores cause only mild discomfort, they can sometimes be very painful. 

Yu may also have an associated fever. 

They often heal after about 2 to 6 weeks. 

Treatment of Canker Sore

If your canker sore is very painful and you are seeking treatment immediately or if it has remained after 2 weeks, it is reasonable to seek treatment. 

Treatment of canker sore could be with the use of natural remedies, over the counter medications, prescription medication from your doctor or even in the clinic with the use of heat of silver nitrate cauterization. Let's look at each of these options. 

Natural Remedies To Treat Canker Sores

Salt In Warm Water Mouth Rinse. This is the usual first step most people try when they develop painful mouth ulcers or canker sores. It is suiting and keeps the mouth clean. 

Add about 1 table spoonful of cooking or table salt into a warm glass of water and gaggle with it, holding it in your mouth for about 3 minutes. You can do this after every meal and before going to bed. 

It will certainly help increase blood flow to your mouth to promote healing. The salt itself will help discourage the growth of harmful bacteria in the ulcer. 

This salt and warm water rinse for canker sore on its own will not be enough to clear your ulcer in a few days. 

Baking Soda. The use of baking soda as a home remedy for the treatment of canker sores has been well documented. It is cheap, effective, though could be uncomfortable. Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate helps to balance the pH of the mouth and cause healing of canker sores on the tongue fast. Mix about 1 teaspoonful of baking soda in 1/2 a glass of warm water and use it as a rinse in your mouth about 3 to 4 times a day. 

Tree Tea Oil. Many people have reported using this agent to treat their canker sore on the tongue or anywhere else in the mouth, but it is very important to stress that tree tea oil taken by mouth is poisonous! There is no doubt that tree tea oil has medicinal use and has been shown in a lot of studies to have antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties. For safety reasons, we do not endorse the use of tree tea oil in the mouth or tongue. 

Warm Tea Bag Application. Just like the salt in warm water rinse, you can squeeze a tea bag soaked in warm water and use it to apply heat directly on the canker sore to provide you comfort and encourage healing. 

Over The Counter Medications For Canker Sore

The following over the counter medications are available for the treatment of your canker sore on the tongue if the above home remedies fails.

They include:

Hydrogen Peroxide Mouth Wash. You can get hydrogen peroxide from your local drug store and mix one part hydrogen peroxide with same quantity of water and use as mouth wash. 

Orajel Antiseptic Mouth Sore Rinse. This widely used product contains hydrogen peroxide and methyl salicylate and phosphoric acid. It acts as both a pH stabilizer as well as antiseptic and healing enhancer. You can get this product from directly on line from here

Hydrocortisone Tablet OTC (Cortef). In some countries, you will be able to buy hydrocrtisone (2.5 mg tablet) from over the counter - meaning you do not need a doctor's prescription and apply this to your mouth ulcer to heal. Where that is not possible, you could try the cream. 

Bonjela Gel. This is another over the counter medication you could get and try for your canker sore. 

Prescription Medications For Canker Sore

When all the above fails or if you are looking to go straight to trying something from your doctor for a painful canker sore, these are prescription medications for canker sore that actually works:

Oracort Gel. This is a gel containing the powerful steroid called triamcinolone. It heals most ulcers within a week or two. 

Sucralfate (Carafate). This medicine is used originally for the treatment of stomach ulcers. It ha snow been found effective for the treatment of difficult to cure mouth ulcers too. 

Colchicine. This is a medication used in the treatment of gout, but also effective on its own or in combination with oracort in the treatment of recurrent chronic mouth ulcer. 

Miracle Mouthwash or Magic Mouthwash. These are prescription only medications found to be very effective too in the treatment of canker sores or mouth ulcers. They typically contain tetracycline - an antibiotic, nystatin - an anti-fungal, dexamethasone - which is a steroid, and diphenhydramine, an antihistamine. 

In-office Treatment For Canker Sore

If you have a troublesome canker sore that won't go away, or that you want to expedite its clearance, you can see your doctor to do in-office treatment. 

The two most popular in-office treatment are the use of:

  • Silver nitrate stick to burn off the ulcer and force healing or
  • Laser treatment for mouth ulcers. 

If your doctor thinks that your mouth ulcer or canker sore on the tongue is suspicious, he will refer you to see an oral surgeon who will decide if this needs biopsy or not. 

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