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How do I Treat a Canker Sore on the Tongue?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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There is usually no need to see a doctor when you have a canker sore on the tongue. Canker sores usually go away on their own and do not require or respond to treatments intended to get rid of them. Instead, you may use at-home treatments to keep yourself comfortable while you wait for a canker sore to go away on its own. For example, you may use over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication, salt-water rinses, and OTC numbing agents to gain relief from canker sores. In addition, you may find it helpful to avoid eating spicy or acidic foods when you have this type of sore, as they can cause pain.

In most cases, you will have to perform self-care techniques to deal with a canker sore on the tongue. The methods you will use won’t make the canker sore go away, as it will likely do that on its own. Instead, you will typically use self-care techniques to relieve symptoms while you wait for the sore to go away on its own. One of the self-care techniques you may try is an OTC pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. While aspirin might prove effective as well, it is not typically recommended for people under the age of 20 years old.

Choosing cold foods and drinks may also help you minimize the pain of a canker sore on the tongue. For example, cold drinks such as water and iced tea may prove helpful. You may also get relief by sucking on eye cubes or ice pops. It is important, however, to avoid fruit juices or ice pops made with a high concentration of fruit juice. The acidity may serve to make your symptoms worse.

When you have a canker sore on your tongue, there are also some foods you should avoid, as consuming them may only increase your discomfort. They include spicy or acidic foods, salted foods, and nuts. Foods that you can’t cut into little pieces may be best avoided as well. In fact, even coffee and chocolate may be off limits when you have a canker sore on the tongue.

While a doctor’s help isn’t usually required to treat a canker sore on the tongue, there may be times when you will need it. If you have a canker sore that lasts for more than two weeks, you may need to see your doctor. He may prescribe a medication that can be applied topically or even a mouthwash that may help it to go away faster. You may also need to seek a doctor’s evaluation if you have a canker sore that causes extreme pain and interferes with your ability to eat or drink even bland foods. Likewise, if you have an unexplained illness or fever along with a canker sore, you will likely need medical attention for it as well.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By Pippinwhite — On Jul 15, 2014

They can also be the result of an allergy, either to a food, or to a toothpaste. I can't use gel toothpastes anymore. Just can't. I'll get a canker sore either on my tongue or inside my lip every time. Once I switched to a paste, and especially the Rembrandt paste for canker sores, I stopped getting them.

Using baking soda and water as your toothpaste can also help them. There are also some over-the-counter preparations that will numb the canker and help it heal faster.

By Grivusangel — On Jul 14, 2014

Rinsing with baking soda or hydrogen peroxide can really help a canker sore. If you get one, you might also try taking a Vitamin C supplement. It's not unusual for a canker sore on the tongue to be caused from a mild Vitamin C deficiency. You can get the regular tablets, chewable ones or gummies. I like the gummies, myself. I had them and they got better when I made sure I had enough Vitamin C.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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