8 Potential Reasons Your Mouth Is Numb


Numbness in your mouth is usually nothing serious and may not require treatment. In severe cases, it may be a sign of an allergic reaction, stroke, or cancer. If numbness persists, you should seek medical attention.
If you have a numb mouth you might experience it as a loss of sensation or feeling in your mouth. This can happen on your tongue, gums, lips, or in more than one area.
You may have a tingling or prickling (pins and needles) feeling on your lips or inside your mouth.
The medical term for numbness or tingling anywhere in the body is paresthesia. It usually involves pressure, irritation, over-excitement, or damage to the nerves.
A numb mouth by itself is usually nothing serious and you may not need treatment. In other cases, treatment depends on the cause of the numbness.
We look at 8 possible causes for a numb mouth and what you can do for each.

Bite, burn, and acidity

Bite, burn, and acidity
Biting your tongue, lip, or the side of your mouth while chewing food can cause mouth numbness. Eating or drinking something too hot or too spicy can also lead to a numb mouth.
A cavity in your tooth can also cause numbness in part of your mouth. This happens because the nerves in the mouth or lips may be slightly damaged or inflamed (swollen).
Numbness due to a minor injury in the mouth or on the lips will go away on its own as the area heals. This may take a few days or less.
For a severe injury or burn, you should seek medical attention. If you believe you have a cavity, you should see a dentist.

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Localized allergic reaction

Localized allergic reaction
An allergic reaction may cause mouth numbness and tingling lips. This may be due to breathing in pollen or eating a food that you’re allergic to.
Oral allergy syndrome, sometimes called pollen-fruit allergy syndrome, is when you become allergic to pollen on a fruit or vegetable, as well as the fruit or vegetable itself.
People with seasonal allergies are more likely to have this. Younger children are less likely, and those that do usually grow out of it.
This type of allergy only causes symptoms in and around the mouth. The numbness is a local allergic reaction. This means that the immune system overreacts and thinks the food or other substance is harmful.
Allergy symptoms are then triggered, such as:
runny nose
Most people have mild symptoms that go away on their own.
Avoiding the food allergen usually gets rid of the mouth numbness and other symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe anti-allergy medicines if needed.

B-12 deficiency

B-12 deficiency
Not getting enough vitamin B-12 or folic acid (vitamin B-9) can trigger a number of symptoms including mouth numbness, pain, and burning. It can also cause mouth ulcers.
This happens because these vitamins are needed to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen and energize the body. B vitamins are also important for nerve health.
Treatment for a vitamin B-12 or folic acid deficiency is very important. If it goes untreated, it can cause permanent nerve damage.
A doctor or nutritionist may recommend foods that are rich in vitamin B-12, folic acid, and other B vitamins. You’ll also likely need daily supplements of these vitamins.
In some cases, your doctor may prescribe vitamin B-12 injections. This can help boost nutrition if your body can’t properly absorb vitamin B-12 and other nutrients.

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Low blood sugar

Low blood sugar
Diabetes and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can lead to a number of symptoms including mouth and lip numbness.
This may happen because very low blood sugar levels affect the brain. The nerves that work to send signals from the mouth, tongue, and lips may be temporarily damaged or not functioning.
Other symptoms of a drop in blood sugar include:
Low blood sugar is first treated by drinking a sugary drink or eating a sugary food.
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor may also change your medications to make sure they’re not too high and lowering your blood sugar too much.
Changing your diet to include more fiber-rich foods that help balance blood sugar levels will also help.

Burning mouth syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome
Burning mouth syndrome or BMS is common in middle-age and elderly women, especially during menopause.
Around 2 percent of U.S. people are estimated to have this syndrome. Women are almost seven times more likely to have BMS than men.
It typically causes a burning or sore sensation on the tip and sides of the tongue, the roof of the mouth, and on the lips. It can also cause a numb mouth.
The cause of burning mouth syndrome isn’t known. It’s thought to be a type of nerve pain.
According to one 2013 review, it may be due to changes in hormones or vitamins and minerals in the body. Medications may help. These include alphalipoic acid and antidepressants.
Seizures due to epilepsy or brain tumors may cause a numb mouth. This can affect the tongue, gums, and lips.
These serious conditions will cause other symptoms in addition to mouth numbness.
Drugs or surgery to treat the cause of the seizures will stop or reduce other symptoms including mouth numbness.

Signs of stroke

Signs of stroke
A stroke can temporarily block blood flow to your brain. This can cause a number of serious symptoms.
A stroke can also damage the nerves that carry signals to your face, mouth, tongue, and throat. This may cause your mouth to go numb. But a stroke typically causes more than one symptom on the face.
Facial symptoms may include:
drooping and numbness on one side of the face and mouth
slurred speech
blurred vision
difficulty swallowing
Seek immediate care
A stroke is a medical emergency. Anyone who’s having a stroke must get urgent medical care. Some stroke symptoms clear up after some time. Others may be permanent. Physical therapy may help improve some stroke symptoms such as muscle weakness on one or both sides of the body.

Cancer and damaged blood vessels

Cancer and damaged blood vessels
Mouth and throat cancers can trigger a number of symptoms including numbness in the mouth. The numb feeling may be throughout the mouth and lip area, or in patchy areas.
This happens when cancer cells cause nerve or blood vessel damage in the mouth.
Other symptoms of mouth cancer include:
soreness or irritation in the tongue or mouth area
red or white patches in the mouth or on the lips
thickened spots on the tongue and inside the mouth
a sore jaw
difficulty chewing or swallowing
Treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
In some cases, mouth numbness may be permanent if a large part of the mouth or tongue is damaged. Surgery for the treatment of mouth cancer may also cause numbness in the mouth.

Medications and treatment that cause a numb mouth

Medications and treatment that cause a numb mouth
Mouth numbness can sometimes be a side effect of certain medications and of treatments for certain medical conditions.
Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about any symptoms that you’re worried about or that are interfering with your normal activity.
Treatments that may cause mouth numbness include:
bisphosphonate therapy (Actonel, Zometa, Fosamax, and Boniva)
surgery in the mouth or on the face, head, or neck

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