What could be causing my lips and tongue to feel numb and tingle?

Loza H. Jemjem, MD
Internal Medicine
There are a few different reasons your lips and tongue may feel numb and tingly.
If you take medication that you are allergic to, or if you have an allergic reaction to some kind of food, you may feel these sensations. And people who have migraines often report these symptoms, too.
If you’re feeling numbness, pain or tingling in your face, that may be a sign of a mini stroke or stroke.
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Abraham Speiser
A numb lip and tongue that is not caused by a food or a medication could be nothing to worry about or it could be something serious.

Generally speaking, anesthesia (total loss of sensation,) paresthesia (partial sensation, partial numbness, tingling) and dysesthesia (abnormal, bothersome sensation) is due to pressure on the nerve, impaired nerve function or nerve injury or destruction.

If both areas, tongue and lip, are numb on one side of the mouth, pressure on the nerve can come from swelling of an abscessed tooth pressing on the main nerve to the lower jaw or from something more serious than a tooth.

If both areas, tongue and lip, are numb on both sides of the mouth, the diagnosis could be impaired nerve function (e.g. diabetes or other neuropathies) or from something more serious. 

Nerve injury or destruction, in the absence of a history of injury, requires a medical diagnosis as soon as possible.

My advice is to see your dentist or oral surgeon to rule out a dental or oral cause first. If it is not dental or oral, see your physician or ear, nose and throat doctor. DO NOT IGNORE NUMBNESS OF THE TONGUE AND LIPS.

A numb feeling and tingling in the lips and tongue could have several possible causes:

  • You might be getting a canker sore (aphthous stomatitis). These small, shallow sores on the inside of the lips or under the tongue often cause a tingling sensation a day or two before they appear.
  • You might have dry mouth (xerostomia). A common symptom of dry mouth is a tingling sensation in the tongue. Dry mouth can be caused by certain illnesses and some medications. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about dry mouth symptoms.
  • Numbness and tingling in the lips and tongue can sometimes be a side effect of a drug. Call your doctor if you experience these symptoms while taking medication.
  • Itchiness and tingling in the lips and tongue are common symptoms of a food allergy. If you think you might have a food allergy, talk to your doctor about testing.
  • People with diabetes can get numbness and tingling in the lips and tongue if their blood sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia).                                                                         

If you experience numbness and tingling in your lips and/or tongue, it is always best to see a doctor for a check up.

The lips and tongue become numb after your dentist gives you an injection of local anesthetic to treat teeth on the lower jaw.

An infected tooth, a fracture or tumor in the lower jaw can also cause numbness to the lips and tongue. You should see your dentist for an examination to determine the cause.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.