Sores on Back of Tongue Causes, GERD, Canker Sores, Swollen Papillae and Home Remedies

Do you have small painful or painless bumps or lesions in mouth including the back of your tongue? You may have tongue sores. Read our post to get information on how you can get sores on your tongue dorsal (back) aspect, possible ways of treating, preventing future occurrence and helpful remedies you may apply.

Causes of sores on the back of tongue

A tongue sore can be a sign of an STI
A tongue sore can be a sign of an STI

Inner lip mucosa (especially the lower lip), areas around the tip, lateral or sides of the tongue are more prone to mouth sores. However you can also get them on the back of the tongue and throat.

Here are the causes of tongue sores including the back of tongue.

Canker sores

Canker sores are a type of ulcer that occur on the oral mucosa. Canker sores can either be classified as either simple canker sores or complex canker sores.

Causes of canker sores

While there is no single known cause for canker sores, majority of the patients who get them in mouth is due to minor injury.

Other possible reasons why you get canker sores ion mouth include hormonal changes, allergy (esp. food), acidic foods, stress (chronic), certain tooth pastes with sodium lauryl and aggressive mouth cleaning. According to scientific research, occurrence of sores on in mouth may also be connected to genetic history.

Celiac disease and Behcet’s syndrome are other potential causes for canker sores in mouth.

Treatment remedies for canker sores on tongue

How long do canker sores last? Canker sores on tongue or in mouth clear up on their own in few weeks (at least 1 week and few days). However, if you have additional symptoms such as fever, sores spreading all over ion mouth including the back of tongue, seek proper medical attention.

Some of the remedies for discomfort caused by canker sores include OTC herbals that have menthol, eucalyptus and benzocaine.

Dabbing a small amount of milk of Magnesia can also be helpful.

Sometimes, you may need to see a nutritionist if you have sores that last for more than three weeks or when they won’t heal.

Acid reflux (GERD)

Acid reflux is a condition whereby the small intestines food content move back and forth the gut between the esophagus and the small intestines.

Individuals who have a weaker muscle that close the esophagus can face this problem.

People who have this condition often experience soreness in throat, heartburns, chest pain sour taste in mouth.

How does GERD or acid reflex cause sores on the back of tongue? Sores on the tongue is due to the acidity in the food contents which irritate the lining at the back of throat especially the esophagus lining.

Causative factors

You may get GERD symptoms due to the following reasons.

  • Eating heavily
  • Bend down or lie while putting pressure on the stomach
  • If you have sleeping disorders
  • If you have celiac disease, cystic fibrosis or scloisis
  • If you are allergic to foods or vomit frequently
  • People with digestive disorders or regurgitate food


Depending of the severity of the symptoms, doctors usually aim at reducing the effects on the patients. For patients with mild symptoms, prescription medication may not be necessary. However, for severe cases, a surgery may be required.

Treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy

Have you ever received oral cancer treatments? How do treatments like cancer therapy lead to sores in mouth?

Undergoing these treatments is crucially important especially after you have been diagnosed of cancer of the mouth or have developed it. However, there may be risks associated with certain treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.


According to the Mayo Clinic, cancer treatments (chemotherapy or radiation therapy), weaken the immune system thus compromising its fighting ability against germs that cause or lead to infections.

Mouth sore
Mouth sore


Chemotherapy involves use of chemotherapeutic drugs such as Depocyt, Cytosar U, Carac, Fluoroplex, Efudex and Trexall. These drugs can cause mouth sores.

Radiation therapy

Head cancer or neck cancer may require you undergo radiation therapy or sometimes both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Notably, “more-intense doses of radiation will cause mouth sores to develop more quickly.” [

Mouth sores (on back of tongue) and cancer

Presence of sores in mouth (anywhere including on tongue, gums, palate back of throat) can be an early sign of cancer of the mouth. Notably, sores due to cancer show persistence and won’t heal on their own or even with medication.


These symptoms may due to other causes of lesions or sores in mouth but can also be indicative of oral cancer.

  • Numbness of the tongue or elsewhere in the mouth
  • Jaw swelling
  • A lump in the neck or swollen neck region
  • A lump or thickening in the cheek
  • A white or red patch in mouth
  • A sore throat
  • Persistent mouth pain is another common oral cancer sign
  • Loosening of the teeth
  • Pain in the teeth or jaw
  • Voice changes
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • Persistent bad mouth breath

If you have had cancer treatments like radiation therapy in the past, you are at high risk of developing oral cancer.


Oral examination and evaluation based on symptoms can help determine if you have signs of cancer. Removal of the areas with abnormal tissue presentations may also be necessary for testing.


Early treatment of cancer is more effective in controlling the cancer cells before they grow or develop other serious symptoms. Cancer screening tests may be necessary for early treatment to be possible.

Hormone changes and tongue soreness

Mouth sores due to an imbalance in hormones is attributed to physical changes likely to occur in mouth including redness and swelling of the gums or bleeding.

Hormone changes is one of the risk factors for canker sores especially in women.

Swollen papillae on tongue

Swollen papillae could be one of the reasons why people feel soreness in tongue. Tongue papillae become swollen due to irritation or inflammatory oral conditions.

Other possible causative factors

These include factors such as STIs symptoms like syphilis and burning mouth syndrome.

Home remedies for sores in mouth

These are some of the helpful remedies for sores on back of tongue or in mouth.

Use small amount milk of Magnesia for sores on tongue
Use small amount milk of Magnesia for sores on tongue


Canker sores

Remedies for canker sores on back of the tongue include:


Icing the sores is the simplest way of dealing with pain caused by canker sores. You can do this by placing an ice on the canker sore until it melts away. Avoid ice chips with pointed or sharp edges on sores in mouth.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar would speed up healing of the sores on back of tongue and make them disappear faster.

If you have concentrated ACV, begin by diluting it or with warm water.

  • Measure equal sections of warm water and apple cider vinegar
  • Gargle in mouth foe a few minutes and spit out
  • Repeat one or twice especially when there is increased pain


Sage leave and sage extracts are ideal for painful canker sores. In addition to reducing mouth bacteria, sage reduces inflammation in tongue.

  • Place 2 leaves of sage in hot water
  • Let it cool down and then rinse your mouth

For best results use dried sage or go for the extracts from a drugstore.

Baking soda

Ensure that you are using BAKING SODA for canker sores on tongue. Baking soda helps neutralize the acidity in food contents that have landed in the sores. It also helps kill the bacteria which may have resulted to irritation.

  • Clean your mouth to reduce present bacteria
  • Add 1/2 tablespoonful BAKING SODA to warm water
  • Rinse gently if the sores cause pain

Hydrogen peroxide + BAKING SODA

Use hydrogen peroxide for purposes of disinfecting the sores on back of tongue as a remedy.

Hydrogen peroxide helps to prevent infection of the sores on tongue.

  • Add 1/4 of glass hydrogen peroxide to 1/2 glass of water
  • Add half tsp. of baking soda to the resultant solution
  • Place a few drops on to the sores
  • Gargle with salty water afterwards

More home remedies for tongue sores

Other remedies you can use to deal with mild pain due canker sores on tongue include:

  • Licorice tea
  • Antacid tablets
  • Tea bags
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  2. Mouth sores caused by cancer treatment: How to cope/ Mayo Clinic Staff. MFMER. Accessed online June 2017.
  3. 13 Home Remedies for Canker Sores:
  4. Cure Canker Sores with Inexpensive Home Remedies: EARTHCLINIC
  5. Gastroesophageal reflux disease. UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND MEDICAL CENTER.