Canker Sores on Tongue – Pictures, Causes, Cure, Remedies

What are Canker Sores?

Canker sore is a small, oval shaped ulcer that are found inside the mouth, cheek, lips, gums and tongue. Canker sores are painful, they can be single or clustered and usually heal within a week with or without treatment. They appear suddenly, they begin with a red, ulcerated spot with a yellowish border. Its size ranges from 1/8 inch to more than one inch in diameter.

canker sores on Tongue

Canker ulcers are classified according to the size of the lesion:

Minor Ulcers

The size of the lesion is between 3 to 10 mm or 0.1 to 0.4 inch. This is the most common type of ulcer, the lesion appears with yellow or gray in color and may last for about 2 weeks.

Major Ulcers

Major ulcers may appear as minor ulcers, but larger in size for about more than 10 mm in diameter. They can be extremely painful and last longer, usually takes more than a month to heal.

Herpetiform Ulcers

It is the most severe type. It is composed of small but numerous’ lesion that form clusters. It affects mostly females than males and often during adulthood.

It is more common among girls than boys, and occur most frequently in school aged children. The frequency of having canker sores is less than 4 episodes a year, but in some cases people suffer from it for more than 4 times.

Canker sores are different from cold sores, the difference between them are their causes, appearance and location. Cold sores mostly affect the skin of the lips, but canker sore do not. Canker sores rarely strike the gums, but cold sores often do. Cold sores are usually associated by inflamed lymph nodes in the neck. Cold sores are caused by virus infection (Herpes), but canker sores is not. Canker sores are probably caused by bacteria or temporarily weak immune system.

Canker sore is not contagious. It is also called as Apthous Ulcers

What Causes Canker Sores on the Tongue?

The exact cause of canker sores is unknown, but it has been linked to a number of factors

  • Poor oral hygiene – Low in good oral hygiene may lead to an overgrowth of acid producing bacteria in the mouth.
  • Bacterial Infection – Ulcers may arise from an organism called hemolytic streptococcus bacteria.
  • Food allergies – Sensitivity to certain foods like shellfish, walnuts, chocolate, citrus fruits and gluten rich foods have been connected in having Canker sore.
  • Nutritional deficiency – Poor diet and deficiency in some vitamins and minerals like Iron, folic acid and Vitamin B12 have been linked to causing Canker sore.
  • Trauma – Injuries to the mouth such as pricks, punctures and using of hard bristled toothbrush can develop canker sores.
  • Stress – In some people physical or emotional stress are one of the causative factors. Stress is one of the causes for recurrent canker sores.
  • Weak immune response – Formation of ulcers may involve abnormal immune responses to bacteria normally found in the mouth. Canker sores are more common in women during premenstrual period.
  • Heredity – Heredity factors also play a role in the development of Canker sores, it occurs mostly in people with other members of the family who also suffer from it.
  • Crohn’s disease – People suffering from Crhon’s disease (a type of inflammatory disease in the gastrointestinal tract) have a higher rate of having canker sores.


Painful Ulcer

The sores appear suddenly and disappear just as quickly. For ulcers that are recurrent and do not heal for more than 2 weeks it is advisable to consult a doctor right away.

Burning and Tingling Sensation

Triggers when eating hot, spicy and acidic foods.

How to Get Rid of Canker Sores on Tongue?

Canker sore usually disappear on their own even without any treatment, but there are over the counter treatments that relieve pain and numbness.

Pain relievers

For mild to moderate cases, Acetaminophen and paracetamol is given to decrease the pain of the ulcers. For uncontrollable pain, anesthesia is given. A prescription medicine called Amlexanox (Apthasol) paste is known to be effective in treating severe canker sores. Dilactin is another drug that is used to relieve irritation and to protect the lesion, it is an ointment that is applied directly to the ulcer.


Gargling with mouthwash may help to reduce the risk of having infection in your mouth. Some doctors prescribe mouthwash that contain Tetracycline, antibiotic for canker sores.

Practice good oral hygiene

This is to protect the normal alkaline environment of your mouth.

Avoid eating acidic foods like citrus fruits, chocolates, sugar and caffeinated drinks because they will cause more irritation to the ulcers. If canker sores arise due to a food allergy you should avoid allergic foods like shellfish and gluten rich foods.

Eat soft foods that are much easier to chew and swallow like soups and steamed vegetables

Nutritional Supplements

Take appropriate dosage of vitamins and minerals like Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Zinc as prescribed by your physician to stimulate your immune system and promote tissue repair in the mouth.

Home remedies for sores on the tongue

  • Choose a toothpaste that does not contain Detergent Sodium Lauryl sulfate, this detergent may cause dryness in the mucosa leaving them vulnerable to damage from acidic foods.
  • Use a soft bristle toothbrush to avoid trauma to the gums and inner cheek.
  • Avoid sugary and sweet foods, as well as caffeine and meat products. These produce body acid that makes the ulcers worse.
  • Using a straw when drinking can reduces the pain especially for children.
  • Putting ice inside the mouth can help decrease pain and the burning sensation.
  • Eat and maintain a well balance diet.
  • Keep your mind and body free from stress, get enough sleep and exercise regularly

Canker Sores on Tongue Pictures

canker sores on Tongue pictures

Sores on Tongue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.