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

Dr. Mark S. Schultz, DO
Family Practitioner

A tingling feeling in the tongue can result from a specific procedure or experience, such as an allergic reaction or dental procedure. The medical name for a pins and needles sensation is paresthesia. It can affect all parts of the body, including your lips and tongue.

There are some medical conditions associated with a numbness or loss of sensation in the tongue or lips, so it is important to be aware of the warning signs for serious medical conditions, such as a stroke. If you are experiencing other symptoms such as blurred vision, trouble sitting, standing or walking, difficulty speaking and weakness in your arms or legs, seek immediate medical attention.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

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.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

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

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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.