Tongue Bleeding When Brushing – Why Is That?

Tongue Bleeding When Brushing

Last Updated on July 23, 2023 By Emma W. Thomas

Tongue bleeding when brushing may occur due to various reasons. Potential causes include brushing too hard, using a hard-bristled toothbrush, mouth injuries, or underlying issues like vitamin deficiencies or bleeding disorders. Consult a dentist if the problem persists for proper evaluation and treatment.

List of Potential Reasons Why Is the Tongue Bleeding

  1. Brushing too hard or aggressively
  2. Using a toothbrush with hard bristles
  3. Tongue injuries from accidental biting or trauma
  4. Tongue ulcers or canker sores
  5. Vitamin deficiencies (e.g., vitamin C or K deficiency)
  6. Bleeding disorders (e.g., hemophilia)
  7. Certain medications may cause bleeding
  8. Oral infections or inflammations
  9. Oral cancer or other oral health issues
  10. Excessive alcohol consumption or smoking

What Are The Significant Causes Of Tongue Bleeding?

Significant Causes Of Tongue Bleeding

Your tongue could bleed during brushing as a result of many conditions. Sometimes the condition may persist for a certain period, or it will clear on its own within a short time. Some of the causes include; 

Biting Or Injuring With Hard Food

Sometimes you will bite the tongue or injure it with hard food, which will result in bleeding as you brush. In most cases, the injury will heal on its own after some time, and you may not need to seek medication. 

Mouth Blisters Or Ulcers

Mouth ulcers or blisters (also referred to as canker sores) may form in the mouth, including on the tongue. These sores could be a result of genetics, hormonal changes, or specific health challenges like deficiency of vitamin B-12. The canker sores could also be triggered by IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). 

While these conditions usually heal independently, they could be irritated by a harsh toothbrush or sharp food resulting in your tongue bleeding. A doctor can examine your mouth to diagnose the problem or request a swab if they suspect an underlying condition. 

Mouth blisters will generally clear within one or two weeks, but you can use antimicrobial sprays, gels, and mouthwashes to prevent infections and minimize symptoms. You can also treat the condition using lozenges that contain corticosteroids. But, be sure to see a doctor if the problem goes beyond three weeks. 

Oral Herpes

This oral condition is caused by the virus herpes simplex, which can survive in the human body for an extended period without causing any problems. Oral herpes is very contagious and can be triggered by hormonal changes or stress. The infection may first appear as cold sores in the mouth, and if present on the tongue, they can bleed due to injuries or contact with some trigger foods. 

It is not easy to diagnose oral herpes since it may have no symptoms or be the same as those of other conditions. However, some common signs may include itching, pain, redness, and blisters that burn. A doctor may check for the presence of this virus by getting a tissue sample from the affected area and having it tested. 

Although there is no cure for oral herpes, you can get medications to treat the symptoms. These medications can be in the form of antiviral pills or injections. 

Fungal Or Oral Yeast Infections

When yeast and oral fungal infections are left untreated, they can progress and cause the tongue to bleed. Conditions like candidiasis (oral thrush) could result in hard mouth sores, leading to pain while drinking, eating, and even swallowing. A healthy person may have yeast in the mouth, and only a few will develop an infection. 

People at high risk of getting oral infections include; infants, those taking antibiotics, HIV patients, and people undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy. To diagnose oral diseases, a doctor may conduct a visual examination just like with mouth ulcers. A doctor may also recommend a mouth swab to determine the germ causing the infection and prescribe the proper medication. There are both oral medication and creams available to treat these infections. 

Blood Vessel Defects

Sometimes the bleeding of the tongue could be a result of hemangioma (a collection of excess blood vessels). While this condition is rare and more common in women than in men, it can cause pain, bleeding, and difficulty in eating. A doctor will diagnose this condition by physically examining your tongue and looking at a person’s medical history. 

Tongue hemangioma can be treated through radiation treatment, surgery, and corticosteroids depending on one’s physical condition and age. You may also go through laser treatment or cryosurgery (this process involves using freezing temperatures to destroy cells). Radiofrequency (a method that consists using of heat to trigger healing) can also be effective. 

Cancer Of The Tongue

One of the most common types of tongue cancer is SCCA (Squamous Cell Carcinoma) which can be responsible for the bleeding of the tongue. This tongue cancer affects the nose, mouth lining, thyroid, throat, and voice box. Besides unexplained bleeding of the language, other signs may include; 

  • Stubborn pain when swallowing
  • Numbness in the mouth
  • A lump or sore spot on the tongue

A doctor can perform a biopsy to confirm if tongue cancer is present or not, and this will involve checking a sample of the tissue under a microscope. Treating this cancer is similar to other types, and it depends on the stage. Some of the treatments involve chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery. 

Summary Of Causes Of Tongue Bleeding, Diagnosis, And Treatment




Blisters or ulcers

Mouth examination by the doctor or a mouth swab

They clear on their own within one to two weeks. You can also use antimicrobial gels, sprays, and mouthwashes

Yeast or fungal infections

Visual examination and sometimes a swab

Oral treatment or creams depending on the type of infection

Oral herpes

Not easy to diagnose, but it leads to itching, pain, redness, or burning blisters.

No cure but can be treated using antiviral ointments.

Blood vessel defects

Physical examination

Treatment includes surgery, radiation, laser, radiofrequency, and corticosteroids.

Tongue cancer


Treatment depends on whether other body parts are affected. It may include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy.

How Can You Prevent The Bleeding Of The Tongue?

While it may not be possible to prevent some health conditions that cause the bleeding of your tongue, you can avoid some risky habits such as;

  • Poor oral health – make sure that you brush your mouth rightfully and avoid injuring the tongue. Also, visit your dentist frequently
  • Excessive smoking and alcohol consumption – these habits may lead to some types of cancer and other oral infections
  • Unhygienic use of dental floss, dentures, and other dental tools

What Are Some Of The Home Remedies To Stop Tongue Bleeding?

Some home remedies are available to relieve or even stop tongue bleeding, which include:

  • Gaggling with warm water or mouthwash many times a day
  • Using ice cubes on the affected part of the tongue. You can either place the cubes directly or wrap them in clean gauze or napkins and press the affected areas. You can repeat the procedure 2 to 3 times a day to get good relief. 
  • Rinsing your mouth with a solution of baking soda or salt in water. To do this, place a teaspoon of salt or baking powder into a glass of warm water. Stir until the substance dissolves, then rinse your mouth 3 to 5 times each day
  • Avoid taking spicy foods or acidic drinks, which will worsen a mouth ulcer or sore if present.
  • You can also use over-the-counter painkillers to relieve any pain or swelling.
  • Do not poke the affected area and avoid chewing on that side of the tongue. Doing this will give an infected tongue time to heal.
  • Eating yogurt with active and live cultures can also help reinstate healthy bacteria levels in your system. This type of yogurt aids in digestion and also helps to improve your immunity.

Eating popsicles and sipping cold water through a straw may also help relieve the symptoms.

When Can You Visit A Doctor For A Bleeding Tongue?

 Most mouth sores and bleeding will disappear on their own after a few days. But, persistent tingling, pain, or bleeding that goes beyond two or three weeks calls for one to see a doctor. Be sure to explain the symptoms and signs to the doctor to help them make a proper diagnosis. 

Wrapping Up

Your tongue could bleed due to several factors such as oral infections, injury by hard food or brush, or other conditions like cancer. While the bleeding may stop on its own, it is necessary to consult a doctor when the problem persists for a more extended period.