The numbness of the tongue


Numbness of the tongue describes a sensory disorder. The sensory stimuli are perceived differently. The numbness is caused by irritation or damage to the nerves. Furthermore, damage to special areas in the brain can also cause a sensitivity disorder.

Usually the numbness disappears on its own after a few days. If the symptoms persist, however, a doctor should be consulted.

The reasons

Numbness can result from damage to nerves. As a result, the stimulation impulses can no longer be passed on. If the tongue feels numb, there is usually irritation / damage to the trigeminal nerve (5th cranial nerve). This nerve can be damaged in various places in its course. For example, it can be irritated as part of an infection of the paranasal sinuses or the oral cavity. Furthermore, anesthesia at the dentist also leads to a feeling of numbness in the tongue.

In addition to impairment of nerve function, damage to specific areas of the brain can also lead to sensory disorders. This can be caused by a stroke or multiple sclerosis.

Find out all about the topic here: The sensitivity disorder.

Conduction anesthesia as the cause

Conduction anesthesia describes local anesthesia of the nerves to enable painless dental treatment. A branch of the trigeminal nerve is numbed with a local anesthetic (lidocaine). The anesthetic sets in after a few minutes and lasts for up to two hours. Usually the muscle strength of the lip is weakened and the tongue can no longer be moved properly. In addition, the tongue feels furry and swollen. Eating and drinking is only possible again when the effect of the local anesthetic has waned.

Read more on the subject here: The conduction anesthesia.

The wisdom tooth operation as the cause

Wisdom tooth surgery can be necessary due to various diseases, such as recurring inflammation or temporomandibular joint pain. For the operation, the affected area is numbed to eliminate pain. Then the wisdom tooth is surgically removed. The procedure is usually straightforward, but nerves can be damaged if the tooth is deeply seated.

For more information, read on: The operation on the wisdom tooth.

The stroke as the cause

The stroke is triggered by a circulatory disorder in the brain. The circulatory disorder can be triggered by arteriosclerotic changes or by blood clots that clog the blood vessels. Cerebral haemorrhage can also lead to an insufficient supply of the tissue. The affected area is no longer adequately supplied with oxygen. The nerve cells go under and the tissue dies.

Depending on which area is affected, various functional disorders can arise. An acute numbness of the tongue can indicate a stroke. In addition, paralysis, speech and sensitivity disorders can occur. However, with early therapy and appropriate rehabilitation measures, the symptoms can regress.

Signs of a stroke? Read more here.

Folic acid deficiency as the cause

Folic acid is an essential vitamin that is part of DNA. It controls important processes in the body, including cell reproduction, energy metabolism and fat metabolism. The latter in particular is important for the structure of cell membranes and myelin sheaths. The myelin sheath forms a sheath around nerves and improves the conductivity of nerve impulses.

If the folic acid deficiency persists for a long time, neurological symptoms arise as the impulses are passed on with a delay. In addition, other symptoms such as anemia and indigestion can arise.

Other accompanying symptoms

Depending on the underlying disease, different symptoms can occur. Symptoms such as speech and vision disorders are common with a stroke. Paralysis or sensitivity disorders in other areas also often occur.

With multiple sclerosis, people experience numbness in other areas and impaired vision. A chronic folic acid deficiency results in anemia, which again leads to dizziness, tiredness and poor concentration. Digestive problems can also occur.

The pain in the tongue and face

Pain can be an accompanying symptom. Patients suffering from trigeminal neuralgia in particular describe attacks of pain and loss of sensitivity in the face. The pain is very strong and stinging or burning.

Furthermore, pain can arise in the context of multiple sclerosis or after a stroke. With these diseases, areas in the brain are disturbed, which is why the processing of pain is also changed.

In addition, pain can also arise after a wisdom tooth operation. The surgical procedure damages the tissue and irritates the surrounding nerves.

The diagnosis

First of all, the attending physician should take a detailed anamnesis (recording of the medical history). The timing and accompanying symptoms are particularly important here. An acute incident with paralysis, speech and vision disorders can indicate a stroke and must be clarified immediately. A CT of the skull is necessary for this. A physical exam should also be performed. The accompanying symptoms should be recorded precisely. The doctor can then make a diagnosis or, if you are unsure, refer it to a neurologist.

The treatment

Treatment depends on the underlying condition. If numbness occurs after a dental operation, the body needs time to regenerate. The nerves are temporarily irritated by the operation and the anesthesia. However, if symptoms do not improve and numbness persists, you should see your doctor again.

In the event of a stroke, the patient should be admitted to a clinic with a stroke unit. Special therapeutic measures are initiated there. Among other things, the so-called lysis therapy takes place there. It is supposed to dissolve the blood clot and free the blocked vessel. This is to ensure blood circulation.

If a chronic folic acid deficiency is suspected, the value in the blood should be examined. If there is a deficiency, folic acid should be substituted. The attending physician should determine the correct dosage. Affected patients can also pay attention to their diet. Foods like spinach, broccoli, and eggs are good sources of folic acid.

This article might also interest you: Stroke therapy.

The duration

No general statement can be made for the duration of the numbness. It depends on the underlying disease.

A feeling of numbness after dental surgery should go away after a few days. In a stroke, the symptoms can last a lifetime if therapy is not started on time. In multiple sclerosis, on the other hand, the symptoms may go away but reappear after a certain period of time.


No clear answer can be given for the prognosis either. It also depends on the underlying disease.

The prognosis of a sensitivity disturbance after a dental operation is very good. The prognosis of a folic acid deficiency is also good if the appropriate therapy is initiated. In contrast to this, the prognosis for a stroke varies considerably from person to person. It depends on the affected brain area, the start of therapy and the rehabilitation measures.

Cure After a Stroke? Find out more here.