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What Is The Cause Of Tongue Ulcer?

Last Updated on October 6, 2023 by Nurse Vicky

What Is The Cause Of Tongue Ulcer?

Tongue ulcers, also known as canker sores, are a common and painful oral condition that can be quite bothersome.

If you’ve ever experienced the discomfort of a tongue ulcer, you know how important it is to understand what causes them and how to prevent them.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of tongue ulcers, exploring their causes, symptoms, and effective remedies. Let’s get started!

Understanding Tongue Ulcers

Tongue ulcers are shallow, round, or oval sores that develop on the surface of the tongue. They can be quite painful and may interfere with your ability to eat, drink, and speak comfortably.

While they are usually harmless and tend to heal on their own within a week or two, understanding their causes can help you prevent future occurrences.

Common Symptoms of Tongue Ulcers

Before we dive into the causes, let’s take a look at some common symptoms of tongue ulcers:

  • Pain and Discomfort: Tongue ulcers can be painful, making it uncomfortable to eat or speak.
  • Round or Oval Sores: They typically appear as small, round, or oval sores on the tongue.
  • Red Border with Yellow or White Center: The sores often have a red border and a yellow or white center.
  • Burning Sensation: Some people may experience a burning sensation before the ulcer forms.

Now, let’s explore the various factors that can cause these pesky ulcers.

Possible Causes of Tongue Ulcers

1. Trauma or Injury

One of the most common causes of tongue ulcers is trauma or injury to the tongue. Accidentally biting your tongue, sharp food edges or dental appliances like braces can all lead to the development of ulcers.

2. Spicy or Acidic Foods

Consuming spicy or acidic foods can irritate the delicate tissues of the mouth, including the tongue. This irritation can trigger the formation of ulcers.

3. Stress and Anxiety

Believe it or not, your emotional state can play a role in the development of tongue ulcers. High stress levels can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to mouth ulcers.

4. Vitamin Deficiencies

Deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, iron, or folic acid, can increase the likelihood of tongue ulcers. Maintaining a balanced diet is crucial for oral health.

5. Hormonal Changes

For some individuals, hormonal changes, such as those that occur during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, can trigger the onset of tongue ulcers.

6. Underlying Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, or immune system disorders, may contribute to the development of mouth ulcers, including those on the tongue.

7. Genetics

In some cases, genetics may play a role. If you have a family history of mouth ulcers, you may be more predisposed to developing them.

Now that we’ve explored the potential causes of tongue ulcers, you might be wondering how to prevent them and alleviate the discomfort when they occur. Here are some tips and remedies:

Preventing and Treating Tongue Ulcers


  1. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Brush and floss regularly to keep your mouth clean and healthy.
  2. Avoid Trigger Foods: Limit your consumption of spicy, acidic, and overly salty foods.
  3. Manage Stress: Practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation and deep breathing.
  4. Dietary Supplements: Consider taking vitamin and mineral supplements if you’re deficient.
  5. Consult a Dentist: If you have recurring tongue ulcers, consult your dentist for professional advice.


  1. Over-the-Counter Gels: Use OTC gels and ointments designed for mouth ulcers to relieve pain and promote healing.
  2. Saltwater Rinse: Gargling with warm salt water can help soothe the ulcer.
  3. Avoid Irritants: Stay away from spicy or acidic foods while the ulcer is healing.
  4. Prescription Medications: In severe cases, your dentist or doctor may prescribe medications to manage the pain and promote healing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can tongue ulcers be a sign of a more serious condition?

While most tongue ulcers are harmless and heal on their own, if you experience persistent ulcers or other concerning symptoms, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying medical issues.

2. Are tongue ulcers contagious?

No, tongue ulcers are not contagious. They are not caused by a virus or bacteria and cannot be spread through contact with an affected person.

3. How long does it take for a tongue ulcer to heal?

Typically, tongue ulcers heal within one to two weeks. If an ulcer persists for more than two weeks or recurs frequently, consult a healthcare provider.

4. Can I prevent tongue ulcers entirely?

While you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing tongue ulcers, such as maintaining good oral hygiene and managing stress, they cannot always be completely prevented.

5. Are there any natural remedies for tongue ulcers?

Some people find relief from tongue ulcers by applying aloe vera gel or honey to the affected area. However, these remedies may not work for everyone, and it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for severe cases.

6. Is there a link between tongue ulcers and certain foods?

Spicy, acidic, and salty foods can irritate the tongue and potentially trigger ulcers in some individuals. Avoiding these trigger foods may help reduce the risk of developing tongue ulcers.

7. Can tongue ulcers lead to more significant oral health problems?

In most cases, tongue ulcers are a temporary and isolated issue. However, if left untreated or if they persist, they could lead to complications. It’s essential to monitor their progress and seek medical advice if necessary.

In conclusion

understanding the causes and potential remedies for tongue ulcers can help you manage and prevent this common oral condition. While tongue ulcers can be painful and inconvenient, they are typically not a cause for major concern. If you experience persistent or severe ulcers, don’t hesitate to seek professional medical advice for proper evaluation and treatment.

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