Most causes of a sore tongue, like canker sores, swollen taste buds, and mouth injuries, can be treated at home. Home remedies can also help you ease a sore tongue caused by more serious medical conditions, such as burning mouth syndrome or oral thrush, as part of a medical treatment plan.

Oral hygiene

Brushing your teeth with a soft toothbrush, flossing, and using a mouthwash can help rid yourself of a sore tongue and prevent infection. You may also find that using a toothpaste that doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate helps relieve soreness.

Aloe vera

Aloe is known for its skin-soothing abilities. This also applies to the tongue. You can rinse your mouth with aloe juice a few times per day.

Baking soda

For pain and swelling, try rinsing your mouth with a mixture of warm water and baking soda (1 teaspoon per 1/2 cup of water). You can also make a paste out of baking soda and water and apply it to the sore area.

Milk of magnesia

Applying small amounts of milk of magnesia, an acid neutralizer, to a sore tongue can help relieve pain and promote healing.

Hydrogen peroxide

As an antiseptic, hydrogen peroxide can treat an infection or sore inside your mouth. Use only 3% hydrogen peroxide and dilute it with water (equal parts peroxide to water).

Dab the affected area using a cotton swab. After a few seconds, rinse your mouth with warm water.

Salt water

Gargling salt water is another way to reduce pain, inflammation, and prevent infection. Mix a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, swish it around your mouth, gargle, and spit.

Honey

Honey is a natural antibacterial and has been shown to be effective in treating several types of wounds. You can rub a bit of honey directly on the sore area a few times per day or drink a warm tea with honey.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil may be able to heal a sore tongue because of its antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Apply the oil directly to the sore area with a cotton ball, rubbing it gently. Or you can swish it around in your mouth and spit it out. This is called oil pulling.

Chamomile

Chamomile is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. Scientific evidence is limited, however. To try this remedy, rinse your mouth with a strong chamomile tea once it has cooled, or apply a wet tea bag directly to the sore spot.

Antacids

Antacids are used to neutralize stomach acid and may help relieve a burning or sore tongue, especially if it’s caused by acid reflux.

Ice, ice pops, and cold water

Ice has numbing qualities, so drinking ice-cold water or sucking on an ice cube or ice pop can help relieve some tongue soreness, including soreness caused by dry mouth, or a burning mouth.

OTC treatments

You can also visit your local drugstore for OTC topical treatments that work by coating the tongue and protecting it from further irritation.

Examples include:

  • benzocaine (Orabase, Zilactin-B)
  • OTC hydrogen peroxide rinses (Peroxyl, Orajel)

Vitamin supplements

If your tongue soreness is caused by a vitamin deficiency, consider taking a multivitamin or a vitamin B complex supplement. Consult your doctor before taking any supplements.

Avoiding spicy and irritating foods

Spicy and acidic foods (like pineapple, lemon, and tomato) can worsen tongue soreness. Until the soreness goes away, avoid these foods. Instead, eat soft, bland foods, like mashed potatoes and oatmeal.

Though home remedies might help reduce tongue soreness, infections and inflammatory conditions, as well as chronic illnesses like cancer, will most likely require medical treatment.

Antibiotics

Bacterial infections, like syphilis, can lead to mouth sores. Your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection. Make sure to take the full course of antibiotics, even if you start feeling better.

Antifungals

Antifungals, like fulcanazole (Diflucan) and clotrimazole (Mycelex Troche) are prescribed to treat oral thrush.

Prescription mouthwash

A prescription mouthwash or antimicrobial mouth rinse can help prevent infections as a sore tongue heals.

Steroids

A doctor might prescribe a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation caused by mouth sores or by another inflammatory condition, like lichen planus.

Vitamin supplements

You might need a prescription vitamin supplement, like a B-12 shot, folate, or iron to help treat a vitamin deficiency.

Medications to increase saliva production

If you have dry mouth, there are prescriptions available to help increase saliva production.

Cancer treatments

Treatment for oral cancer usually consists of surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

If you notice changes in your tongue (like changes in color, bumps, or sores), that last for more than two weeks, visit a doctor or dentist. You should see a doctor sooner if you have the following symptoms alongside a sore tongue:

  • fever
  • rash
  • fatigue
  • bleeding gums
  • white patches in the mouth
  • diarrhea
  • inability to eat or drink
  • blisters or sores on other parts of the body

A doctor can find out if your tongue soreness is caused by an underlying condition, or if you simply need to make some changes to your oral hygiene routine. They can also test to rule out less-common causes of tongue soreness, like burning mouth syndrome and oral cancer.

Tongue issues caused by infections, like oral thrush, or syphilis, will likely require a prescription to get rid of the infection, so don’t delay making an appointment.

Most causes of a sore tongue are temporary and aren’t serious.

The most common causes of tongue soreness include:

Less common causes for a sore tongue include:

A sore tongue usually isn’t serious, and may even resolve on its own within two weeks. In the meantime, you can try a few home remedies to ease the pain as you heal.

Home remedies can also help with the symptoms of more serious medical conditions, like oral thrush and vitamin deficiencies, as part of the medical treatment plan recommended by a doctor.