Imagine this: you wake up one morning and something feels different in your mouth. You realize that, while you can move your tongue around, you can’t feel it touch your teeth or gums. Noticing that your tongue has gone numb can be shocking and uncomfortable. Fortunately, with the help of Dr. Craig Armstrong and our Houston dental practice, there’s no need to panic. We are available to assist you with all sorts of oral health issues and dental emergencies, including a numb tongue. Often, changes in your mouth are much easier to deal with if you understand what could be causing them. In the following blog, we describe why your tongue might feel numb and how we can help you treat your condition.
The medical term for numbness in the tongue is paresthesia. Health Hype defines this as “any abnormal sensation from the tongue which includes sensations such as numbness, tingling or prickling (‘pins and needles’).” Basically, your tongue may feel like it is burning, freezing, stinging, or it may feel nothing at all—these are all paresthesia. Health Hype explains that this condition may be especially noticeable in the tongue because this organ “has a rich nerve supply” and “is lined with a delicate mucous membrane.” Whatever you call it and however it feels, paresthesia can be uncomfortable and unnerving. Having a numb tongue can also interfere greatly with your daily life, making eating, drinking, and speaking more challenging.
When you have a filling, extraction, or any other sort of more intensive dental procedure, local anesthesia helps numb your mouth to keep you comfortable and safe. However, in some cases, numbness may spread to your tongue. This sensation could continue for a few hours after your appointment or, in rare cases, injecting anesthesia could disrupt nerve function and cause more long-lasting paresthesia. If you’ve recently had a dental procedure, this could be the reason why your tongue is numb. We recommend that you contact our Houston dental practice immediately if your tongue is numb for more than a day after treatment.
If you have allergies, certain foods, smells, or substances might cause your tongue to go numb in response. If you’re suffering from tongue paresthesia, consider whether you’ve recently tried any new snacks, perfumes, or other products that could cause a reaction. Fortunately, in this case, your paresthesia should go away relatively quickly, and you’ll be able to prevent future numbness by simply avoiding the allergen that caused it.
Specific prescription medications, recreational drugs, and alcohol can lead to paresthesia. If your tongue goes numb, check the side effects of your pill bottles and avoid drinking or taking drugs.
A systemic or localized viral or fungal infection could impair nerve function in your tongue, causing paresthesia. This is just one more reason it is important to practice excellent oral hygiene and take care of your body. In this case, normal tongue sensation should come back once you’ve treated the infection.
An imbalance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients could also make your tongue go numb. Health Hype describes: “an excess or deficiency of certain micronutrients may also lead to paresthesia” particularly regarding “calcium, sodium, or potassium” as well as “vitamin B12.” If this is the cause of your numbness, taking supplements or modifying your diet could help you regain sensation in your tongue.
Numbness in your tongue could be a symptom of more general neurological issues. While these affect your entire nervous system, your tongue can be especially sensitive. Paresthesia in your tongue could be a warning sign of a more serious condition, so it is important to pay attention to it. According to Medicine Net, “conditions that damage the nervous system, like multiple sclerosis, as well as brain conditions such as stroke, can cause numbness and tingling of the tongue.” If Dr. Armstrong and our team rule out other potential causes for paresthesia, we may recommend that you see a general physician or specialist.
If you’re suffering from paresthesia of the tongue, we advise you to call and schedule an appointment with Dr. Armstrong right away. We can examine your tongue, go over your medical records, ask key questions, and perform other diagnostic assessments to pinpoint the cause of your paresthesia and treat it.
You don’t have to suffer through tongue numbness. Furthermore, you shouldn’t ignore important paresthesia symptoms. Contact us today to find out more and schedule an appointment with Dr. Armstrong.