Diagnosing a Tongue Ulcer
The diagnostic process for tongue ulcers depends on the number of ulcers, and severity and location of the condition. The process of diagnosis that is usually followed is a combination of physical examination, and investigation of symptoms and medicine intake.
Take your medical record of doctors’ prescriptions as your doctor is likely to study them carefully. In case you are taking other over-the-counter (OTC) medications as well, discuss them with your doctor.
After carefully analysing the symptoms, the doctor will decide whether medical tests are required.
For ulcers that the doctor wants to investigate further, biopsies and other diagnostic tests can be recommended. Ulcers that have not subsided within 3 weeks are referred for a biopsy to eliminate the risk of chronic infections. If the doctor suspects that the tongue ulcer may be due to vitamin deficiencies, allergic reaction, or autoimmune disorder, other tests may be recommended.
If required, the treatment options are as follows:
- Tongue ulcers caused due to trauma, which have developed over one week, can generally be effectively treated with anesthetic anti-inflammatory throat spray or mouthwash. These help in healing the ulcer and maintaining good oral hygiene.
- Sores that make eating and drinking difficult are usually treated with topical drugs if they last for more than two weeks and do not subside on their own.
- Non-prescription pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen may help in case the ulcers are of a mild, uncomplicated nature.
Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies
Below are some lifestyle changes and home remedies that are advised if you have tongue ulcers:
- Do not eat very spicy, salty, or acidic food
- Keep away from acidic food like tomatoes and lemons.
- Avoid hard, crispy food like potato chips, nuts, pizza, etc.
- Use the medicated toothpaste and mouthwash that has been prescribed by your doctor. If you have not been advised any toothpaste or mouthwash, purchase one that does not contain SLS.
- Avoid using toothpaste that contains sodium lauryl sulphate
- Strictly take care not to brush over your ulcers.
- Drink liquids like cold drinks through a straw
- Avoid chewing gum
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Drink cool liquids through a straw
- Eat softer foods
- Get regular dental check-ups
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Do not eat rough, crunchy food, such as toast or crisps
- Avoid very hot or acidic drinks, such as fruit juice
- Avoid chewing gum
- Do not use toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulphate
If the oral ulcer is recurrent, lasts longer than three weeks, becomes more painful, red, or even numb, it may be an early sign of oral cancer. Please consult your doctor to know more.