Sore or white tongueOverview
A sore or white tongue isn't usually serious and is often easily treated. Most should only last a short time.
Things you can do yourself
- use a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth
- use a toothpaste that doesn't contain sodium lauryl sulphate
- brush your tongue or use a scraper to help improve a white tongue
- use a straw to drink cool drinks
- take painkillers
- eat hard, spicy, salty, acidic or hot food and drink that may irritate your tongue
- drink alcohol
A pharmacist can help with a sore or white tongue
A pharmacist can look at your tongue and might be able to tell you:
- what's causing it
- if you can buy anything to help with any pain or irritation
- if you should see a dentist or GP
See a GP or dentist if you:
- have pain or itchiness that doesn't go away or gets worse
- have white patches on your tongue
Common causes of a sore or white tongue
Biting or burning your tongue with hot food or drink can cause pain and swelling. But this should last only a few days.
A white tongue can be a sign of a health condition.
Don't self-diagnose – see your GP if you're worried.
Read about lichen planus.
Read about leukoplakia.
Read about geographic tongue.
Read about mouth ulcers.
Read about oral thrush.
Page last reviewed: 18/05/2017
Next review due: 18/05/2020