I don't see many tongue problems or tongue diseases
as a dentist in general practice. They are relatively uncommon, but
some tongue conditions can
be very important, even life-threatening.
When you have a problem with your tongue, you suddenly realize
we all tend to ignore our tongues from day to day. If you've noticed
something different about your tongue, it can be very difficult to
forget about it!
But sometimes we try to ignore a small ulcer or a tender spot
where a denture is rubbing a bit.
THIS IS WRONG.
You should ALWAYS get it checked if you notice something
about your tongue, under your tongue, or for that matter anywhere in
What TONGUE PROBLEMS are there?
There are quite a few, some of them with rather odd-sounding
names, but all of them can be annoying, and one or two can be very
Here's a run-down of the more common disorders; just click on the
blue title to read more!
ulcers. Sometimes you can get a small ulcer on your
tongue, so small it's barely visible. However it can be very tender,
especially if it's on the very tip.
You just can't avoid your tongue
touching your front teeth and rubbing on any little uneven surfaces! I
get these from time to time, and I know from personal experience how
annoying it can be. Usually, it settles down within 2 to 3 days. If it
takes any longer than a week, get your dentist to check it.
tongue from trauma, either from a sharp edge on a
tooth or denture, or tongue injury from biting. This is surprisingly
common, but we need to be sure that it heals up inside a week.
infections. There are some infections that can
affect the tongue, usually a fungal infection.
herpes is a painful condition also known as "cold sores". It
is quite different to canker sores, and is highly infectious.
on tongue problems. These are usually white or grey in color,
and can affect the whole of the top of the tongue, or just in patches.
This is a white patch on your tongue or inside your cheek. While a
leukoplakia itself is harmless, it may lead to more serious conditions.
Treatment of leukoplakia is very simple, so it's best to get any white
patch checked as soon as you see it!
tongue. This can look quite bizarre, and causes
a lot of worry the first time it's noticed, but it is entirely harmless.
tongue syndrome. If you feel that your tongue has a
burning sensation, you may have "burning tongue syndrome".
patches on tongue can look alarming; the white area can cover
your entire tongue, or just a part of it (usually on the side).
hairy tongue. This really IS the correct medical term
for this condition! This is a harmless condition, but can look quite
alarming at first.
swelling. Your tongue can swell up for a number of
reasons. It's usually just more annoying than anything else, but
there's one time when it could be lethal.
tongue. You may get a numb tongue after implant
surgery or wisdom tooth removal. There are a couple of other causes,
of the tongue. This one you want to catch as early
as possible. The sooner you get it diagnosed and treated, the better.
Most tongue cancers occur on the side of the tongue, but they can crop
up almost anywhere around the tongue. There are several photographs of
different types of tongue cancer at tongue
As you can see, there are quite a few conditions that can
affect the tongue. Most are harmless but annoying. The real importance
of tongue problems or tongue diseases is that you want to make sure
it's not anything more
serious. Which it isn't in 99% of cases!
So, to minimise the risks of your tongue problems turning into
something nasty, ALWAYS get that bump, white patch or ulcer checked as
soon as possible. Definitely within 10 days of first noticing it, if it
hasn't settled. Sooner is better!