What Causes a Tingling Tongue?

Donn Saylor

The sensation of a tingling tongue, or paresthesia, can be caused by several different factors; these include burning mouth syndrome, low blood calcium, low levels of parathyroid hormones, vitamin deficiency, facial nerve damage resulting from a dental procedure, multiple sclerosis, or stroke. Tongue numbness or pins-and-needles sensations are telltale signs of paresthesia of the tongue, which results from injury to the body's nerve system. Paresthesia of the tongue is centralized in the tongue but can spread to the rest of the mouth, lips, and jaw.

A tingling tongue may be the result of nerve damage associated with a dental procedure.
A tingling tongue may be the result of nerve damage associated with a dental procedure.

One of the most common causes of tingling tongue is burning mouth syndrome (BMS). Individuals with BMS have dry mouth, mouth discomfort, and a metal-like taste in the mouth in addition to the feeling of a "burning tongue." The condition has any number of causes, including hormonal factors, diabetes, fungal infection, acid reflux disease, allergies, and anxiety.

Burning mouth syndrome may cause a tingling tongue.
Burning mouth syndrome may cause a tingling tongue.

Hypocalcemia, or low blood calcium, is a common cause of tingling tongue. When calcium levels in the blood become depleted, one of the most widely experienced symptoms is numb tongue or tingling sensation in the tongue. This condition can be the result of something as simple as a vitamin deficiency or as serious as cirrhosis of the liver.

A tingling tongue can be caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency.
A tingling tongue can be caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Hypoparathyroidism occurs when the parathyroid glands do not generate enough hormones for optimum health. These hormones control calcium levels, and a natural result of hypothyroidism is hypocalcemia. A numb or tingling tongue could be a red flag to an individual to have his or her thyroid levels checked.

Acid reflux disease can be the cause of a tingling tongue.
Acid reflux disease can be the cause of a tingling tongue.

Another cause of tingling tongue is a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 aids the nervous system in its healthy operation, and if levels of the vitamin are low, it can throw the nervous system off balance. Given the fact that the tongue is a hotbed of nerve endings, it's often the first place to experience symptoms of a B12 deficiency.

Facial nerve damage can be an unwanted byproduct of various dental procedures. The lingual nerve might become compromised during a root canal or wisdom tooth removal. The lingering effects of novocaine or a novocaine allergy can also cause a tingling tongue.

The most critical causes of tingling tongue are multiple sclerosis (MS) or stroke. In both of these conditions, the nervous system does not function properly and sends warning signals to the rest of the body. One of the places an individual might experience symptoms is in the tongue. Generally, however, in both MS and strokes, additional symptoms are also present. Other MS indicators include weakness in the limbs, vision problems, tremors, and dizziness. Headache, vocal and visual problems, and arm and leg weakness are additional signs of a stroke.

A tingling tongue might be related to dental issues.
A tingling tongue might be related to dental issues.

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Discussion Comments


Sometimes it's a sign of a food allergy. I get tingling tongue after I eat nuts or tomatoes.


@KoiwiGal - It does mention in the article that this can be one of the symptoms of stroke. It is actually really important for people to learn the potential symptoms, since acting quickly if a stroke is happening is the best thing you can do to prevent damage.

If someone starts slurring their words and complaining of something wrong with their tongue, I would get them to the hospital immediately. It could be an allergy as well, which is very dangerous, as it can lead to the tongue swelling up and blocking their airway.


@Iluviaporos - At least it was only temporary in your case. It must be pretty miserable to have the tingling tongue symptom all the time as a permanent condition.

That happened to my father after he had a bad experience with a dentist who broke off a drill bit in his tooth and then just left it there. It damaged some of the nerves in his mouth before they had to extract it with surgery and he was essentially told that he was going to be in pain for the rest of his life.

It looks like it can also be a symptom of disease though, so if you suddenly experience tingling or numbness in your mouth and there's no obvious cause for it, I would go and get a check-up to be on the safe side.

It took my dad a while before he was taken seriously by the doctors and they gave him an x-ray and discovered that he still had a fragment of the drill in his jaw. If they had acted sooner, he might not have ended up with such severe symptoms.


I once had burning mouth syndrome for a few weeks because of some medication I had to take. They had warned me beforehand that I might experience a bad taste in my mouth and possibly tingling lips and tongue but I didn't think that sounded like a big deal.

It was horrible though. The tingling made me feel like my mouth was going numb and I was scared to eat in case I accidentally bit my tongue. And the bad taste in my mouth was constant and foul. I hope I never have to have that medication again.

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