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Reasons for a bleeding tongue

Updated November 22, 2016

A bleeding tongue can have many causes. Some causes can be severe, while others can be easily remedied. It's always a good idea to contact a doctor or dentist for a diagnosis and evaluation.

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Determining the site at which the tongue is bleeding can help to diagnose the cause. Bleeding on the sides can be from biting or eating, teeth grinding or chewing objects such as pencils. More serious conditions, such as cancer and coagulation problems, can cause bleeding in the front, centre, back and sides.


Smoking tobacco, facial ticks, chewing or biting the tongue can cause the tongue to bleed. Certain medications like blood thinners can contribute to the problem.


Brushing the tongue can help control bad breath and prevent tooth decay. But it also can cause the tongue to bleed.


Tongue piercing can cause ruptured blood vessels in the tongue, swelling and infections, according to Dr. Donna Meltzer of the State University of New York at Stony Brook School of Medicine.


Tongue cancer can cause unexplained bleeding from the tongue. Other symptoms include a red or white patch, a persistent sore throat, numbness in the tongue and ear pain. Smoking and chewing tobacco is the leading cause of tongue cancer.


Prevention, avoidance and remedies for bleeding tongue include quitting smoking, avoiding biting the tongue, fixing sharp or damaged teeth and softly brushing the tongue. Visit a doctor to rule out a vitamin deficiency, cancer or blood clotting problems.

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