Merck Manual

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Tongue Discomfort


Bernard J. Hennessy

, DDS, Texas A&M University, College of Dentistry

Reviewed/Revised May 2022 | Modified Sep 2022
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Tongue discomfort includes both pain and burning sensations, often caused by irritation.

The most common causes of tongue discomfort are

Other causes of tongue discomfort include

Evaluation of tongue discomfort must first exclude submandibular space infection Submandibular Space Infection Submandibular space infection is acute cellulitis of the soft tissues below the mouth. Symptoms include pain, dysphagia, and potentially fatal airway obstruction. Diagnosis usually is clinical... read more Submandibular Space Infection , which is life-threatening due to potential airway obstruction. Many other causes, such as a sharp tooth edge or candidiasis Candidiasis (Mucocutaneous) Candidiasis is skin and mucous membrane infection with Candida species, most commonly Candida albicans. Infections can occur anywhere and are most common in skinfolds, digital... read more Candidiasis (Mucocutaneous) , are readily apparent on examination. Identifying irritant causes often requires sequential elimination of possible causes. Burning mouth syndrome is a diagnosis of exclusion once other causes have been ruled out.

Tongue discomfort not caused by infection is usually treated by eliminating the cause (eg, changing brands of toothpaste, particularly to a brand that does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate), avoiding irritating/acidic/spicy foods, or having a sharp or broken tooth repaired. Warm salt-water rinses may help. Identified underlying conditions are treated.

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Drug Name Select Trade
Otrexup, Rasuvo, RediTrex, Rheumatrex, Trexall, Xatmep
Adrucil, Carac, Efudex, Fluoroplex, Tolak
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NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: View Consumer Version
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