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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

White painful sores on tongue




my partner is a 24 year old female who has developed very painfun white sores on her tounge. the first one appeared soon after she started taking an anti-psychotic drug to help in the treatment of her mental disability. it has since been a year and over the past 2 months they have doubled in size. she explains that she is slowly eating away at the sores as the pain is unbearable. she has seen 2 doctors one of which claims its a reaction to the medication, the other told her that she may have an sti. she also smokes. she has used a product to wash out her mouth but the numbing only lets her attack the sores by biting more easy to do.


Although your partner's sores could represent a reaction to her medication, there are several other possibilities to consider. An infection is less likely, as they usually do not present as "very painful" tongue sores.

Because the exact clinical appearance (size, location, distribution, etc.) can help determine the most likely diagnosis, I suggest that she seek a consultation with a dental specialist such as an oral and maxillofacial pathologist or oral and maxillofacial surgeon. These specialists are uniquely trained to help evaluate the oral tissues.

However, if the clinical appearance is non-specific, even these specialists would probably recommend a biopsy of one of the lesions to (1) provide a clear diagnosis and (2) guide appropriate treatment for your partner as soon as possible. Good luck!

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Response by:

John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University