What Causes Tingling Tongue?
Paresthesia of the tongue is a condition more commonly known as tingling tongue. This can be a severe condition and should not be confused with a one-off tingling sensation caused by a small injury.
The Symptoms of Tingling Tongue
Tingling tongue, as its common nickname implies, is characterized by a tingling sensation (similar to pins and needles) that affects the tongue. Many people compare it to the feeling of a body part falling asleep, although it has also been described as a burning feeling. The initial symptoms can even be followed by numbness or a total loss of sensation.
Common Causes of Tingling Tongue
Tingling tongue can be caused by a number of conditions that range in severity. The initial cause behind the tingling or burning sensation is damage to the lingual nerves. This could have been caused by an accident, such as badly biting your tongue, or from repetitive damage caused by a broken tooth. It could also result from a tongue piercing that did not heal correctly or that was not placed in the right spot. These are more common ways that one could end up with periodic numbness or tingling of the tongue.
Another possibility is an infection. Certain types of bacteria as well as candida yeast are present in the mouth naturally or as a side effect of eating foods. There are circumstances in which the bacteria or yeast would be allowed to grow to the point that they outnumber the “good” bacteria within the mouth. Failing to maintain a good standard of oral hygiene is the top cause, although a poor diet and mouth sores or wounds can also lead to excess bacteria in the mouth. This can result in a number of unfavorable symptoms, such as bad breath, yellowing of teeth, sore patches on the tongue, cheeks, or hard palate, and tooth or gum decay. Recurring abscesses in the gums might also lead to tongue desensitization. Candida overgrowth in the mouth often results in patches of white or yellow growth on the tongue, gums, and the roof of the mouth. The patches cannot be brushed or scraped away and are often painful while eating or during tongue movement.
Tingling sensations of the tongue might also be caused by dental work. When you go to the dentist to hear that you have to have a tooth pulled, you likely aren’t wondering whether your tongue will experience random and recurring bouts of numbness. In fact, you would probably be in so much pain that you would gladly take a tingly tongue over a bad tooth! Unfortunately, there is a possibility that the nerves responsible for sending signals to and from the tongue and brain become damaged during a tooth extraction. A root canal is another dental procedure that has been known to result in recurring tongue tingling. It is also possible that nerve damage can happen as the result of an accident during a dental procedure, such as moving the tongue while a drill or other sharp device is in use.
Vitamin Deficiency and Allergic Reaction
A deficiency could cause paresthesia of the tongue, but this can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, especially if the symptoms are not very prominent in the patient. Deficiencies in calcium or vitamin B12 are well known to cause issues with the tongue and mouth, such as numbness, a burning feeling, and dryness. These symptoms can also be the result of an allergic reaction to food, medication, or chemicals that may have been ingested.
Serious Health Problems
You may be asking yourself if a tingling tongue can be a symptom of a serious condition, and the answer is yes, it could be. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel becomes blocked or bursts and the brain fails to get sufficient oxygen and glucose. The cells in the brain become seriously impaired to the point that motor functions and memory work less efficiently. A stroke could cause a tingling sensation in the tongue as well as many other symptoms, like numbness in the face, dizziness, difficulty with vision, impaired speech, and arm and leg movement issues. In this case, the problem with the tongue would probably develop during or after the stroke.
Another serious condition that has been linked with tongue tingling is multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis is a disease that affects the central nervous system—that is, the brain, optical nerves, and the spine. With multiple sclerosis, the protective fatty tissues that surround the nerves all over the body are attacked by one’s own immune system. After a fatty tissue attack, scar tissue can develop around the nerves, which makes it difficult for messages to travel along the nervous system. Other symptoms of multiple sclerosis include muscle weakness, tiredness, numbness, spastic or uncoordinated movements, dizziness, vision trouble, and emotional changes that may or may not be accompanied by depression. These are the most common symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis. Less likely symptoms include: seizures, speech impediment, respiratory issues, trouble hearing, itching sensation, and recurring headaches.
Treating Tingling Tongue
In order to properly treat tongue paresthesia, you must find out the cause behind it. Determining the underlying issue can sometimes be a case of adding together and eliminating symptoms. This is a process best done with the help of a doctor. If an infection is present then your doctor will be able to put you on a medication to clear this up. Nerve damage that has resulted from a dental cause is likely to be something that you will have to live with. If you believe that you may be experiencing a serious medical condition then it is imperative that you speak to a doctor as soon as possible for a professional diagnosis.