Tongue Sores During Pregnancy - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Some women experience tongue sores during pregnancy. Under normal conditions, tongue sores indicate vitamin deficiencies. But sometimes, they could be due to other benign or serious underlying conditions. Either way, expectant mothers should not neglect tongue sores.

If you have had persistent tongue sores, contact your doctor to know the causes. We bring you some information you need to know about tongue sores when pregnant in this post. Also, we share a few home remedies that may give you some relief.

In This Article

Causes Of Tongue Sores During Pregnancy

Following are some of the causes for painful sore tongue during pregnancy (1) (2):

  • Stress

Pregnancy being a period of many changes, many women develop ulcers on the tongue in pregnancy during periods of heightened stress.

  • Smoking
Smoking may cause tongue sores during pregnancy

Image: Shutterstock

Excessive smoking can irritate your tongue and make it sore. Quit smoking to avoid the risk of developing tongue sores. Additionally, smoking has other harmful effects on you and on your growing fetus.

  • Biting

If you accidentally bite your tongue or eat something extremely hot, you may develop a tongue sore. Also, if you grind or clench your teeth, it may irritate the sides of the tongue, causing pain.

  • Medical Conditions

If you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or anemia, you are likely to develop a tongue sore.

  • Oral Cancer

Consult a doctor if you have a lump or sore on your tongue that persists for more than three weeks. Oral cancer does not show its symptoms in the early stages. Thus, if there is no pain and you still have tongue sores, a check-up is advisable.

  • Viral Infection

Tongue sores can be caused by viral infections such as hand-foot-mouth disease resulting from herpes simplex virus that can last for about 10 days.

  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies

Tongue sores are sometimes caused by a lack of adequate nutrition. It is more likely caused due to iron deficiency, deficiencies of certain vitamins or minerals, such as vitamin B12 or folate deficiency.

  • Hormonal changes

It has been seen that women with hormonal imbalances are more prone to oral health problems. As pregnancy is a phase that involves significant hormonal fluctuations, it may make a pregnant women more susceptible to tongue sores.

  • Autoimmune diseases

People with a weak immune system are more susceptible to developing sore tongue or yellow tongue.

  • Gingivostomatitis

Herpetic Gingivostomatitis or Gingivitis is an infection of the mouth and can cause blisters and sores in the mouth. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gingivitis is prevalent among 60 to 75% of pregnant women.

  • Oral Thrush

Oral thrush is a fungal infection that can result in dry or sore mouth and occurs when there is an overgrowth of the fungus, Candida, which is also known as Oropharyngeal Candidiasis.

Symptoms Of Tongue Sores During Pregnancy

The following are the symptoms of tongue sores during pregnancy, though they may appear in non-pregnant women as well (2):

  • Bumps on the tongue.
  • Painful sores that are common on or under the tongue, though they can appear anywhere in the mouth.
  • Irregular red patches.
  • White lines on the tongue.
  • Low saliva production

Home Remedies For Tongue Sores During Pregnancy

Gargling can relieve tongue sores

Image: Shutterstock

Here are some of the home remedies for sores on tongue during pregnancy (1) (3):

  • Gargling or rinsing the mouth with warm saltwater
  • Sucking on ice chips may help alleviate pain
  • Keeping yourself hydrated

protip_icon Quick tip
Alum is an astringentiXAgents used for constricting the body tissues to tighten pores and reduce oiliness and may help with tongue sores (6). Apply a paste of alum powder and water on the sore, leave for a minute and rinse your mouth thoroughly.

Such home remedies only provide temporary relief. Hence, consult your doctor to avoid further complications.

Treating Tongue Sores During Pregnancy

Following are some of the treatment methods for tongue ulcers during pregnancy (4):

  • Antiseptic mouthwashes to prevent the bacterial infection from growing
  • Local analgesics in the form of gels or creams for pain relief from oral ulcers
  • Protective pastesiXMedicated pastes used to cover ulcers and prevent irritation from food, drinks and saliva that cover the ulcer

Only use these medications after consulting with your doctor to ensure they are safe to use during pregnancy.

Preventing Tongue Sores During Pregnancy

Maintain oral hygiene

Image: Shutterstock

Following are some of the preventive measures you can take during pregnancy to avoid tongue sores (3):

  • Oral hygiene

The best way to prevent tongue ulcers is to maintain dental hygiene by flossing and brushing daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush.

  • Balanced diet
protip_icon Quick tip
Applying honey on the sores with a cotton swab, two to three times a day may reduce pain and help heal tongue sores (7).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long do sores on the tongue last in pregnancy?

In most women, the sores will heal within 10 to 14 days. However, if the sores do not go away by three weeks, contact your doctor (3).

2. What do you eat with a sore tongue during pregnancy?

If you have a sore tongue, (5)

  • Eat soft food that is easy to chew and swallow
  • Drink soups
  • Eat oatmeals, pancakes, or cereals soaked in milk
  • Try desserts
  • Drink smoothies
  • Avoid spicy or citrus food
  • Stay away from carbonated or caffeinated drinks

3. What is a pregnancy tongue?

According to gynecologist and laparoscopic surgeon Dr. Swati Chitnis, “Pregnancy tongue is also known as geographic tongue. In this condition, there are irregular patches, redness, and swelling over the tongue. It usually occurs due to vitamin deficiencies and is harmless.”

Tongue sores are uncommon during pregnancy. While most causes of tongue sores during pregnancy are benign, they may rarely occur due to a more serious underlying health condition. If you notice any bumps, painful sores, irregular red patches, or white lines on your tongue during pregnancy, visit your dentist or gynecologist to have yourself examined. Tongue sores are usually treated with antiseptic mouthwashes, local analgesicsi, and protective pastes. Maintaining proper oral health, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding harmful habits such as smoking can help prevent this painful condition.

Infographic: What Are The Reasons For Tongue Sores In Pregnant Women?

Tongue sores or canker sores in pregnancy are not uncommon. These small, uncomfortable sores, which can develop on the tongue, gums, or inside of the cheek, can make it difficult to eat, speak, or swallow. The infographic below explores some of the reasons for tongue sores during pregnancy. Read on!

possible causes for tongue sores when pregnant (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Tongue sores can be caused by stress, smoking, biting, viral infections, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, or oral cancer.
  • Some signs of tongue sores include bumps, sores, irregular red patches, and white lines on the tongue.
  • Gargling or rinsing with salt water, sucking on ice chips, and proper hydration can help with tongue sores.
  • Treatment options for tongue sores include prescribed antiseptic mouthwash, local analgesics, and protective pastes.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Mouth sores.
  2. Sore or painful tongue.
  3. Mouth Ulcer.
  4. Mouth ulcers.
  5. Nutrition Tips for Managing Sore Mouth, Throat, and Tongue.
  6. Nasrin Rafieian et al.;(2016); Efficacy of alum for treatment of recurrent aphthous stomatitis.
  7. Treating Canker Sores with Honey.
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