How to Treat a Sore or Bumpy Tongue

May 7th 2016

The best treatment for a sore or bumpy tongue depends on the underlying cause, but most can be treated using a combination of rest, cleanliness and avoiding harmful substances. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to consult a medical professional about persistent or severe conditions.

See Your Doctor or Dentist

Small sores or bumps are often caused by minor irritations, so this is not usually a medical emergency. However, if you are suffering from recurring bumps or pain, it is time to talk to a medical professional. Your dentist is a good first step, because she is typically more well-versed in recognizing oral disorders than a primary care physician. If it is a serious condition, such as cancer, your dentist can refer you to the appropriate specialist.

Persistent problems are a sign something is wrong, but you should also seek medical help if your symptoms are severe. See your doctor sooner if you have extreme pain or sores and bumps that cover large portions of your tongue.

Prevent Irritation

Many small sores and bumps are caused or exacerbated by irritating foods and beverages. If you are experiencing these symptoms, try to avoid spicy, acidic or salty foods for a little while. Stick to softer foods, because sharp ones can cause cuts that develop into ulcers. Alcoholic beverages can also exacerbate oral irritation, so drink in moderation or avoid alcohol entirely.

Maintain Oral Hygiene

Although brushing your teeth can be uncomfortable with certain tongue conditions, it is also important. Human mouths harbor a great deal of bacteria, and neglecting oral hygiene can allow bacteria to run rampant and make the problem worse. Some conditions that cause bumpy or discolored tongues are actually a result of poor hygiene.

Avoid Tobacco

Tobacco is a major cause of painful and unsightly tongue conditions, and avoiding it goes a long way toward preventing them or allowing them to heal. If you are a smoker or use chewing tobacco, a painful or bumpy tongue is a good sign it might be time to quit. Your doctor can help you develop an effective quitting strategy.

Treat the Underlying Cause

While some tongue conditions seem to come out of nowhere, many have an underlying cause. Grinding your teeth is a common cause of tongue irritation and pain. Diabetes and hormonal changes, such as those women experience during menopause, have also been linked to some types of tongue pain. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, including a lack of B12 and folic acid, are other common causes. Treating those larger causes can effectively relieve your tongue problems.


A sore or bumpy tongue can be unsightly and uncomfortable enough to interfere with your daily life. Unfortunately, a variety of conditions can cause these symptoms. However, there are some simple ways to rule out more serious conditions and help your tongue heal.

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