What to do when you burn your tongue

woman suffering from tooth sensitivity

Your food comes, and you take a bite with excitement, not knowing it’s way hotter than you expected.

You'll burn your tongue at one point. It’s uncomfortable, but it usually doesn’t need treatments. However, severe burns will need immediate medical attention.

A swift response is crucial in reducing discomfort. Let’s talk about what you can do if you burn your tongue.

What happens to the tongue if it gets burned

The tongue has little bumps on the surface called papillae. Most papillae contain taste buds that allow us to sense different tastes or textures.

The taste buds can get burned when exposed to extreme temperatures, such as a boiling hot soup. A burnt tongue can swell and may not be able to detect taste well until it heals.

Types of burns

  • First degree.First-degree burns affect the outermost layer of the tongue. This is the mildest form, but it can still cause pain.
  • Second degree.Second-degree burns reach the deeper layer of the tongue, making it more painful. The tongue may also have blisters, aside from being red and swollen.
  • Third degree.Third-degree burns impact the deepest layer of the tongue. Like other burns of the same magnitude, the tongue can appear black and feel very painful.

First-degree burns can be handled at home. But second and third-degree burns are more serious and are best checked by a doctor or dentist to avoid complications.

What to do after your tongue gets burned

Here’s what you can do for relief for minor burns or before seeing a healthcare professional.

  • Soothe the site. The first thing you do after burning your tongue can impact its healing speed. So don’t panic and focus on soothing the area. Apply something cold to it to help ease irritation. Drink cold water or eat cold food, such as yogurt.
  • Keep it cool. You may feel a stinging sensation on the site, so avoid hot food while it’s healing. Opt for soft and cold food that's easy to eat and doesn’t need heavy chewing. You don’t want further friction that can hurt your tongue more. Avoid acidic food as well as it can irritate the area.
  • Rinse with saltwater. You may also gargle with salt water to get rid of bacteria and clean the area. Saltwater helps neutralize acid levels and reduce bacterial growth in the mouth. Rinse your mouth gently to relieve burnt tongue symptoms.
  • Take a pill. Consider taking over-the-counter medication if you need further relief from pain. Follow the recommended dosage or contact your dentist for a prescription. If the discomfort persists, have your dentist examine the area. It may be related to another condition referred to as the burning tongue syndrome.

See your dentist if you spot potential signs of infection, such as swelling or abscess. Please avoid self-medicating. The general tips above aren’t a substitute for professional advice from your dentist or doctor.

How long does it take for the tongue to heal after getting burned?

There’s no instant cure for a burnt tongue. How long it takes before it heals depends on the scale of the burn.

Please don’t underestimate the food temperature next time you eat. Watch out for the steam coming off, let it cool down a bit, and have a tiny taste first to see if it won’t hurt your tongue.

Protect your tongue to keep enjoying the food you love.

If you are looking for a new dentist, give us a call at (613) 258-7373