A sore or white tongue is not usually serious and is often easily treated.
Things you can do yourself
do not use a toothpaste that contains sodium lauryl sulphate
do not eat hard, spicy, salty, acidic or hot food and drink that may irritate your tongue
do not smoke
do not drink alcohol
You can ask a pharmacist about:
- what's causing your sore or white tongue
- if you can buy anything to help with any pain or irritation
- if you should see a dentist or GP
Non-urgent advice: See a GP or dentist if you:
- have pain or itchiness that does not 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 only last a few days.
A white tongue can be a sign of a health condition.
Do not self-diagnose – see a GP if you're worried.
Read about lichen planus.
Read about leukoplakia.
Read about geographic tongue.
Read about mouth ulcers.
Read about oral thrush.
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Page last reviewed: 02 June 2020
Next review due: 02 June 2023