Why does my tongue feel funny?

cleaning your tongue

Does your tongue feel sore? Do you ever feel like your tongue is burning, tingly or prickly? Does the tip of your tongue look red, or do you have little bumps that seem bigger than your usual taste buds? Does your tongue look white and patchy?

There are a number of different things that could be contributing to you having unusual sensations on your tongue, here are a just few:

1. Trauma:

Your tongue may feel quite sore if you have bitten it or burnt it with hot food or drink. This is an obvious one really, but worth mentioning as sometimes it can take a bit of time to heal and you may not remember having hurt yourself. If you are someone who grinds your teeth, this can also cause pain on the edges of your tongue. Ouch!

2. Oral thrush:

Oral thrush can make your tongue appear patchy and cause a thick white coating to form on its surface. Thrush is a yeast infection and is more often seen in babies, older adults and people with a compromised immune system. Having a course of antibiotics can lead to the development of thrush in the weeks that follow, which can be a downright pain after just overcoming whatever condition had you needing antibiotics in the first place! Oral thrush may be painful so it is a good idea to speak to your doctor or dentist to confirm that is what is happening for you and get some treatment recommendations.

3. Allergies or food sensitivity:

For some people, certain foods will irritate the tongue and cause an itchy feeling inside their mouth. Taste buds may swell and white or red bumps may appear. In severe allergies, swelling and itching can also be accompanied by difficulty breathing which can be a medical emergency. It is important to know which foods trigger an allergic reaction for you and to avoid them. Your doctor may recommend taking antihistamine medication, or if your allergies cause you to have an anaphylactic reaction you may be advised to carry an EpiPen with you. Interestingly, some foods cause a degree of itching and soreness for a lot of people. Pineapple is one such food! Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain which breaks down protein – when you eat a lot of fresh pineapple, this enzyme essentially starts breaking down your tongue! It can also cause a prickling sensation on your lips and cheeks. But don’t worry, unless you have a true allergy to pineapple, this isn’t dangerous. Once you have chewed and swallowed it, your saliva and stomach acid will break the pineapple down, and your tongue and cheeks will repair themselves with no lasting effects. 

4. Smoking:

Smoking can cause your tongue to hurt. It is bad for your overall health, but as far as oral conditions go, smoking causes bad breath, yeast overgrowth, stained teeth and even oral cancer. If you’ve been thinking about kicking the habit, chat to your doctor or call Quitline today on 13 7848. Cutting down on cigarettes will go a long way for improving your overall health and the health of your mouth and tongue. 

5. Less common conditions:

It is possible tongue pain is coming from something less common like vitamin deficiency, neuralgia, syphilis or oral cancer. These should be discussed with your doctor or dentist as there are treatments which may help and possible negative outcomes if left untreated. If your tongue pain is ongoing or something just doesn’t seem right to you, make sure to get it checked out for your own peace of mind.

Cleaning your tongue should be a part of your teeth brushing routine. When brushing your teeth (twice daily for two minutes each), you should also lightly brush your tongue. This removes any excess plaque and odour-causing bacteria. 

Our friendly team at Tindale Dental Centre in Penrith are happy to give your tongue a good once over if you’re experiencing any of the sensations described above. There’s no harm in getting checked out and there may be some simple suggestions that can have you feeling better, so why not pick up the phone and call today on (02) 4726 5400 for an appointment.