It’s easy to get concerned when you experience an odd medical symptom. We’ve all been there: you notice something slightly strange and begin furiously searching online for answers. In many cases, it’s hard to find a clear explanation for your condition and you might feel even more worried after you check the web.
Fortunately, Dr. Meghanadh and our team are here to help answer all of your oral health questions so you can have peace of mind and get the care you need for a stunning, healthy smile. Of course, we are available to help our patients of all kinds, including persistent tongue numbness. Read on to find out why your tongue might be numb and how you can treated this.
Numbness is particularly frightening for many people simply because they don’t understand how it works. The technical term for this condition is “paresthesia.” “paresthesia of the tongue is any abnormal sensation…which includes…numbness, tingling, or prickling (“pins and needles”).” You might experience a lack of sensation or unusual sensation—this would all fall under the general category of “numbness.”
The tongue is particularly prone to paresthesia because “sensations of temperature, pressure, texture, and pain are often heightened on the tongue when compared to the skin, and the tongue is also capable of a unique sensory function—taste.” In fact, if numbness dulls your ability to taste, you would be suffering from what’s technically known as “dygeusia.”
Basically, because the tongue does so many different things, it has a “rich nerve supply.” If any one of these nerves becomes damaged or irritated, your sensation might change, leading to numbness or related symptoms.
What Can Cause Tongue Numbness?
Now you understand the basics of paresthesia, but what specifically can trigger this in your tongue? Since this body part is connected to so many different nerve systems, there are a wide range of reasons it could become numb. They include:
- Oral procedures. If you need to have something treated in your mouth, your surgeon might anesthetize and accidentally harm the nerves in your tongue.
- Brain conditions: “brain damage or trauma” can cause paraesthesia in the tongue because “the nerves in the brain affect the entire body, including the face and tongue.” This is important to watch out for, especially if you’ve recently hit your head.
- Allergies. You might think of sneezing or “hay fever” when you imagine the impact of allergies, but these can also cause your tongue to go numb. These is a “very common cause of tongue numbness,” especially “food allergies.”
- Certain medications. There are instances where [tongue numbness and tingling] may occur due to substance use. Ingesting caustic agents, topical anesthetics, certain types of alcohol, prescription drugs, and illicit substances (narcotics) may cause abnormal sensations when exposed to the tissue of the tongue.”
- Vitamin imbalances. Your body needs the right balance of key vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to sense and operate well. “An excess or deficiency of certain micronutrients may also lead to paresthesia of the tongue,” according to MAA ENT, which points out that a lack of vitamin B12 is a common culprit.
- Infections. Bacteria and viruses can interfere with your nerves.
Treating Your Condition
If your numbness is the result of a prior procedure, sensation will typically return in a matter of weeks or months. Dr. Meghanadh, can evaluate your mouth, “map” your loss of sensation, and provide recommendations to help you recover quickly. In rare instances, severe nerve damage may necessitate another oral surgery to repair.
If your condition is related to a broader or more complex health issue, Dr. Meghanadh, will refer to you to an appropriate specialist. Some sources of paresthesia, such as substance use, are easier to treat, while others, like brain trauma, are more complex to resolve. In all cases, we will work diligently to ensure that you get the care you need.
Do You Need More Help?
Dr. Meghanadh and our MAA ENT Hospitals are here to assist you in any way we can. If you have other questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out. Contact us today to get more information and schedule an appointment.