Tongue infections

Tongue infections cleaning

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

The early symptoms of tongue cancer include formation of painful sores on the tongue along with stiffness and pain. In many cases, an ulcer that doesn’t heal is indicative of tongue cancer. Many of these symptoms are similar to those that appear in case of tongue infection. Though not all cases of tongue infection will eventually turn into cancer, there are instances where a recurrent/non-healing case of tongue infection eventually turned malignant. If the tongue infection is associated with HPV (human papilloma virus), the risk of a tongue infection turning malignant is higher.
There are several oral conditions that can cause soreness on the tongue – smoking or any form of tobacco consumption, nutrient deficiency (folic acid), gluten allergy, poor oral hygiene, antibiotics, radiation therapy, tongue infection, canker sores, oral herpes, ill-fitting dentures etc. Conditions such as Down syndrome, oral cancer, overactive thyroid gland, strep throat, and anemia could also give rise to a sore and painful tongue.
Yeast infection (candida) is quite common in the oral cavity. There are several topical antifungal medicines available that can help treat it. Additionally, you can also try a few home remedies to get rid of yeast infection at home. These include – saltwater gargle, baking soda mouth rinse, probiotic yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric oil, clove oil, and oregano oil. Essential oils should not be used directly on the affected region. They need to be diluted in carrier oil before application.
If you have oral sores (ulcers) it would be best to avoid spicy foods. Drink plenty of water. Salt water gargle with lukewarm water can help reduce the pain and inflammation. There are several OTC oral ulcer gels that can help numb the pain. Do not compromise on oral hygiene. Use alcohol-free mouthwashes. Natural remedies for mouth sores include chamomile tea (with honey) and aloe vera gel. This gel can be applied directly on the sore. Clove oil rinse can also help disinfect the oral cavity and numb the pain.
The surface of your tongue is covered with tiny raised bumps called papillae. These papillae contain sensory buds for taste and touch. When bacteria, debris, food etc get trapped in these bumps, it causes inflammation forming characteristic white spots on the tongue. It could be linked to poor oral hygiene. Other causes of white spots on the tongue are ill-fitting dentures, smoking, alcohol, and dehydration.
In most cases, white spots on the tongue disappear on their own and do not require treatment. However, if these spots are linked to leukoplakia or oral lichen planus, you should consider getting medical help. If the white spots are due to oral thrush (yeast infection), topical antifungal gels should work. In the rare case, white spots are triggered due to bacterial infection, a complete antibiotic course would be needed.
White spots on the tongue usually do not represent a serious medical condition. With proper brushing, flossing, and other oral hygiene practices, these go away on their own. However, if the white spots are present for more than 2 weeks, it might be a symptom of a serious underlying health condition. You should consult a dentist in such a case.
If you have painful white spots or bumps on your tongue, eating and brushing your teeth can become problematic. You should use a brush with soft bristles and a sodium laurel ether suplfate free toothpaste. You should avoid irritants such as caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and spicy foods. OTC painkillers can help alleviate the pain. You can also look into natural home remedies such as baking soda to treat white spots.

Overview of tongue infections

Oral diseases are becoming increasingly common at present. These may arise from infections of the buccal cavity, tongue or the teeth. In the initial stages, the symptoms are negligible and can be reversed through proper treatment. But in the more advanced stages, the severity may increase and the disease may eventually progress to oral cancer. The statistics of the World Health Organisation show that worldwide, 4,50,000 new cases of oral cancer are reported each year. Clearly, the current global burden of oral diseases is quite alarming.

What are tongue infections?

Tongue infections bacterial“Tongue infections” refer to a group of infections that occur in the tongue and the adjoining mucosa. The patients may have plaque, tongue inflammation or blisters on their tongues. These conditions often arise from dental problems or the use of protruding dentures. Many a time, irregular white patches form on the mucosal linings, accompanied by pain, inflammation, and tenderness. Fluid-filled blisters may form when the condition becomes very critical.

What causes tongue infections?

Multiple factors contribute to tongue infections.

  • Tobacco: More than 80% of the Leukoplakia patients have a history of smoking. Research studies have revealed a positive correlation between the degree of smoking and the size of the lesions seen in Leukoplakia. These people usually suffer from diffuse leukoplakia of the tongue, buccal mucosa, lips and in some cases, the floor of the mouth. Most affected are the people who are used to reverse smoking. Tobacco chewing is even more dangerous and may lead to white patches in a buccal sulcus, commonly known as “tobacco pouch keratosis”. The symptoms may disappear on cessation of tobacco consumption.
  • Alcohol: People used to alcohol abuse alongside tobacco consumption develop severe mucosal infections. Overuse of mouthwash containing more than 25% alcohol leads to the formation of greyish plaques on the buccal mucosa.
  • Sanguinaria: This is a variety of herbal extract found in toothpaste. It causes “sanguinaria associated keratosis”. It is often accompanied by dysplasia. This may or may not give rise to malignancy.
  • Ultraviolet radiation: It gives rise to lesions in the lower lip and is often associated with cheilosis.
  • Epithelial atrophy: Mucosal and epithelial atrophy may arise from certain conditions like vitamin deficiency, iron deficiency or oral fibrosis.
  • Tumour suppressor genes: Mutations in the tumor suppressor gene p53 can lead to an uncontrolled cell growth and eventually result in leukoplakia along with dysplasia. People who are used to excessive drinking and smoking can develop these symptoms.
  • Trauma: Trauma induced by friction or irritation may lead to keratosis. Nicotine stomatitis, which results from the heat generated in tobacco smoking is an example of this category. Mechanical trauma may also be caused by the pointed edges of dentures or a broken tooth. The plaques, in this case, resemble callus on the skin.

When do you know you have tongue infection?

Tongue infections in kidsIf you have any of the following symptoms, visit a doctor and get tested for tongue infections-

  • The appearance of whitish or greyish patches on the mucosal linings
  • Transformation of patches into lesions
  • Alteration in the surface texture and colour of the affected surface
  • Formation of thickened plaques on the mucosal surface
  • Appearance of fluid-filled blisters that may release a purulent discharge on being rubbed or scratched
  • Scalding, tingling and numbness in the entire mouth
  • Extreme dryness and roughness of tongue
  • A bitter or metallic taste in the mouth
  • Reduced ability to taste (hypogeusia)
  • Pain in the tongue (glossodynia)
  • Burning sensation in the tongue (glossopyrosis)
  • Damaged oral mucosa
  • Problems in speaking (dysphagia)
  • Altered taste sensations (dysgeusia)

Here are some of the choicest oral hygiene care products recommended by dentists.


What are the different types of tongue infections?

Based on the aetiology, tongue infections are of three types-

  • Viral infections: These are mainly caused by the Herpes virus. White spots appear in the mild stage. In the later stages, tiny fluid-filled blisters may form, which may gradually grow in size. The patients have mild to moderate tingling sensation in the mouth and tongue.
  • Fungal infections: It is normally caused by Candida albicans. White patches appear on the tongue which can be rubbed off to reveal a reddish surface below it. It is common in patients with low immunity.
  • Bacterial infections: These are common in people who have tongue piercings. The severity of infections is more when metal studs are used.

Depending on the type of blisters or sores, tongue infections are classified into the following types-

Canker sores: They are the most common forms of oral blisters. They may appear under the tongue or on the gums. These sores are usually whitish or yellowish with a reddish elevated border. Canker sores may result from –

  • Mental stress
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Celiac disease
  • Poor immunity

Candidiasis sores: It causes infections in the tongue and may lead to oral thrush which has the following symptoms-

  • Taste alteration
  • Whitish patches of fungus
  • Red inflamed patches
  • Cracked and reddened skin at the corners of the mouth

Injury sores: Tongue blisters can also appear due to mechanical trauma. Eating very spicy snacks, biting the tongue and sipping very hot beverages can cause burns, cuts, and blisters on the tongue.

How to detect and treat tongue infections?

Tongue infections cleaningTongue infections can be detected by the following tests-

  • Cystoscopy (endoscopy of the urinary bladder): Reveals the white lesions on the urothelium.
  • Tissue biopsy: To rule out malignancy
  • Brush biopsy / exfoliative cytology: to remove and test sample cells from the affected area
  • Histological examinations: To determine the degree of hyperplasia and inflammatory cell infiltration.

The treatment of tongue infection mostly depends on what is the real cause of the infection. To get immediate relief from the pain, OTC painkillers can be taken. but only on doctor’s advise. In order to get relief from the burning sensation in the mouth or tongue, one can try sucking on a piece of ice-cube. Depending upon the severity and the nature of infection, the doctor may prescribe drugs, surgery, or radiation therapy.

In the early stages, certain topical and systemic medications can help cure the symptoms. The most important ones are- carotenoids, retinoids, antimycotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. The use of toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulfate should be avoided since it acts as an irritant.


Prevention

It is easy to prevent the onset of tongue infections. One should regularly practice oral hygiene and care. Replace your toothbrush and tongue cleaner once in every 2-3 months. Bacteriocidal mouthwash is good for keeping your oral region sterile. Make dental visits a priority. Refrain from smoking and other forms of tobacco consumption.

Tongue infections are not life-threatening but can cause persistent pain and discomfort. A proper diagnosis should be carried out in all the cases in order to prevent the disease from progressing to oral cancer.

Facts

  • Both Kawasaki disease and scarlet fever can cause red pigmentation of the tongue.
  • Several medications such as NSAIDs or ACE inhibitors can lead to swelling of the tongue.
  • The most common form of oral cancer is SCC or Squamous cell carcinoma.

Facts

  • White discoloration of the tongue can arise from a number of diseases such as thrush infection, leukoplakia, oral lichen planus, or linea alba.

Facts

  • The tiny raised bumps of the surface of the tongue are called pappilae, where a majority of the taste-buds are present.

Related Conditions

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The early symptoms of tongue cancer include formation of painful sores on the tongue along with stiffness and pain. In many cases, an ulcer that doesn’t heal is indicative of tongue cancer. Many of these symptoms are similar to those that appear in case of tongue infection. Though not all cases of tongue infection will eventually turn into cancer, there are instances where a recurrent/non-healing case of tongue infection eventually turned malignant. If the tongue infection is associated with HPV (human papilloma virus), the risk of a tongue infection turning malignant is higher.
There are several oral conditions that can cause soreness on the tongue – smoking or any form of tobacco consumption, nutrient deficiency (folic acid), gluten allergy, poor oral hygiene, antibiotics, radiation therapy, tongue infection, canker sores, oral herpes, ill-fitting dentures etc. Conditions such as Down syndrome, oral cancer, overactive thyroid gland, strep throat, and anemia could also give rise to a sore and painful tongue.
Yeast infection (candida) is quite common in the oral cavity. There are several topical antifungal medicines available that can help treat it. Additionally, you can also try a few home remedies to get rid of yeast infection at home. These include – saltwater gargle, baking soda mouth rinse, probiotic yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric oil, clove oil, and oregano oil. Essential oils should not be used directly on the affected region. They need to be diluted in carrier oil before application.
If you have oral sores (ulcers) it would be best to avoid spicy foods. Drink plenty of water. Salt water gargle with lukewarm water can help reduce the pain and inflammation. There are several OTC oral ulcer gels that can help numb the pain. Do not compromise on oral hygiene. Use alcohol-free mouthwashes. Natural remedies for mouth sores include chamomile tea (with honey) and aloe vera gel. This gel can be applied directly on the sore. Clove oil rinse can also help disinfect the oral cavity and numb the pain.
The surface of your tongue is covered with tiny raised bumps called papillae. These papillae contain sensory buds for taste and touch. When bacteria, debris, food etc get trapped in these bumps, it causes inflammation forming characteristic white spots on the tongue. It could be linked to poor oral hygiene. Other causes of white spots on the tongue are ill-fitting dentures, smoking, alcohol, and dehydration.
In most cases, white spots on the tongue disappear on their own and do not require treatment. However, if these spots are linked to leukoplakia or oral lichen planus, you should consider getting medical help. If the white spots are due to oral thrush (yeast infection), topical antifungal gels should work. In the rare case, white spots are triggered due to bacterial infection, a complete antibiotic course would be needed.
White spots on the tongue usually do not represent a serious medical condition. With proper brushing, flossing, and other oral hygiene practices, these go away on their own. However, if the white spots are present for more than 2 weeks, it might be a symptom of a serious underlying health condition. You should consult a dentist in such a case.
If you have painful white spots or bumps on your tongue, eating and brushing your teeth can become problematic. You should use a brush with soft bristles and a sodium laurel ether suplfate free toothpaste. You should avoid irritants such as caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and spicy foods. OTC painkillers can help alleviate the pain. You can also look into natural home remedies such as baking soda to treat white spots.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • To keep your mouth free from germs, gargle with lukewarm water mixed with salt.
  • Go for softer and easier and bite foods. Drinking juices and shakes will put a lesser strain on your tongue.
  • Use a toothbrush with softer bristles. Also, use a mouthwash prescribed by a doctor.
Don'ts
  • Indulge in smoking or drinking. Tobacco exacerbates oral infections.
  • Consume foods with high acidic content such as spicy foods or aerated drinks.
  • Chew gum or any other hard to chew items. Also, refrain from talking while eating.

 

 

 

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Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
CEA_test
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test CEA or carcinoembryonic test detects the presence of CEA antigen in your blood mainly & determines the effectiveness…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
Optavia diet
The features of an Optavia diet The Optavia diet endorses pre-packaged meals and snacks called "fuelings" that are tasty, low in calorie, and incorporates…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
BRAT Diet: What is the right way to follow this diarrhea-relieving diet? BRAT diet, a simple diet consisting of just bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, can help you combat the…
thyroid_scan
Thyroid Scan Thyroid scan is a diagnostic procedure that aims to view the thyroid gland and detect any growths or…
Tachycardia heart
Cardiac Profile Cardiac profile is panel of blood tests performed to check cholesterol level and other heart disease markers to…
smelling-salts-benefits
The actual science behind smelling salts and how it helps in injury recovery Most smelling salts are a mixture of ammonium carbonate and some perfumes which are sniffed by an individual…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
Oil of Oregano: The one-stop essential oil you’ve been looking for Are you plagued by a weak immune system? High body inflammation accompanied by pain and infections? Why not…
Experts reveal the safest ways to perform an enema at home The idea of pushing some up your rectal area might make you queasy but an enema could actually…
colposcopy
Colposcopy Colposcopy is a simple, quick and non- invasive diagnostic tool to look closely inside the vulva, vagina, and…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
DHEA wrinkles
DHEA: Now get unbelievable age defiance with this wonder hormone! DHEA is known popularly as the age-defying hormone. This supplement is widely used to slow down aging and…
Cottage cheese: What can you find in this healthy chunk of fresh milk cheese? Love cheese but scared of putting on extra pounds? With cottage cheese, you can get the best of…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
Coffee Enema: Turn your favorite morning beverage into a powerful colon cleanser The wonders of coffee are not just limited to waking you up every morning. You can now use…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
Vitamin-D-blood-test
25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test is a blood test used to measure the level of vitamin D in the…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
Epley maneuver: Why is this the best protection from the symptoms of vertigo? Epley maneuver is an exercise that can treat the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).  It was…
What to eat, what not to eat in the South Beach Diet? The South Beach Diet is one among the most popular weight loss programs that have been the talk…
Erythritol: A healthy sugar substitute or yet another marketing ploy? Erythritol is a popular choice of a healthy alternative sweetening agent in foods. But how healthy can a…
Carb Cycling: Weighing the pros vs the cons of this diet routine Completely discarding carbs from your life will do you more harm than good. Read more about carb cycling,…
Ear pain model
Easy and safe tips for ear wax removal you can do at home Cerumen impaction generally occurs when an external object like cotton swabs are used to remove the ear wax.…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
AUTOIMMUNE HEPATITIS liver
Hepatitis Profile A hepatitis profile or a hepatitis panel is a blood test that checks for markers of hepatitis infection…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Hepatitis A virus infected liver
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Total Blood test to look for IgM antibodies to know if you are infected with Hepatitis A virus (HAV),…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
Strep throat pain
Anti-Streptolysin-O Test The ASO or Anti-Streptolysin-O is a blood test designed to check for the presence of streptococcus bacterial infection…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
AHBC Igm
Anti-Hepatitis B Core Antigen (AHBc) IgM Anti-hepatitis B core antigen (AHBC) IgM is an investigative procedure to detect the presence of IgM antibodies in…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
Unbelievable health benefits of gooseberries (and a few tasty recipes) Gooseberries are antioxidant-rich tasty fruits that can be easily added in daily diet to improve overall health and…
piles fissure fistula
Allopathy vs homeopathy vs ayurveda treatment for piles, fissures, and fistula Read to know the best form of treatment among allopathy, homeopathy,or ayurveda for piles, fissures, and fistula
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…