What Does It Mean When Your Tongue is Sore, Bumpy or Discolored?

What Does It Mean When Your Tongue is Sore, Bumpy or Discolored?

Who do you go to if you’re experiencing problems with your tongue? At our Carlsbad dentist office, we will examine your tongue to learn more about your oral health. Certain tongue problems are normal. However, others may indicate that there are issues with your dental or oral health. Learn more about the different tongue problems and when you should be concerned.

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Bumpy Tongue


This is a common concern that often crops up temporarily throughout your life. Some tongue bumps are harmless, while others should be looked at by a dentist in Encinitas or the surrounding area. Some bumpy tongue causes include:

  • Transient lingual papillitis – These bumps feel like inflamed taste buds and can become painful. They’re caused by irritation, acidic or sugary foods, stress or gastrointestinal disorders. Rinsing with salt water can reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  • Viral bumps – If you have been sick, you might have small bumps on the sides and tip of the tongue. These should resolve when you feel better.
  • Lumps that don’t go away – Persistent lumps or bumps on or underneath the tongue should be checked out by a dentist.
  • Bumpy edges – If the sides of your tongue retain the indentations from your teeth, you could have some alignment or clenching issues that a dentist in Encinitas can help you resolve.



There are generally two types of sores that can crop up on your tongue:

  • Canker sores – These tongue sores may start out like a red bump and develop into a painful white crater. They’re typically caused by a mouth injury, such as biting your tongue, or stress. Canker sores are not contagious
  • Oral herpes – This viral infection causes sores on the lips, gums, tongue and inside of the cheeks. These sores are contagious.



A healthy tongue is pink and moist. Sometimes, it changes color depending on the foods and beverages that you consume. But if the discoloration doesn’t go away when you give it time or drink water, it could be a sign of one of the following tongue problems:

  • Bright red – A tongue that looks like a strawberry could be irritated. However, it’s also a sign of certain illnesses and nutrient deficiencies.
  • White tongue – If your tongue has a white coating or patches, you could be dealing with thrush. This yeast buildup happens when your oral microbiome is thrown off. Lacy patches could be indicators of more serious disease, in which case you should have them examined by a dentist in Del Mar.
  • Black tongue – Bacterial, fungal and protein overgrowth can cause the tongue to look dark and hairy. Visit a dentist in Del Mar to determine the root of the problem and treat it.


Solana Family Dentistry is here to address all of your oral health concerns. If your tongue problems have recently developed or won’t go away, set up an appointment for a consultation.

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