What causes tingling tongue?

Tingling tongue can be caused by a wide variety of conditions. Common causes include stroke, head injury, reduced blood flow, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, and neurologic diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, causing weakness, coordination and balance difficulties, and other problems).

Nerve-Injury related causes of tingling tongue

Tingling tongue may be caused by nerve injury including:

  • Dental work that injures nerves (rarely)
  • Fracture or dislocation of your jaw
  • Head injury that causes pressure or swelling
  • Oral or maxillofacial surgery that injures the nerve to your tongue
  • Pressure on a nerve from a growing mass or tumor

Disease-related causes of tingling tongue

Tingling tongue can also be caused by a variety of diseases or conditions including:

  • Inactive or underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • Migraine headache
  • Multiple sclerosis (disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, causing weakness, coordination and balance difficulties, and other problems)
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Stroke
  • Transient ischemic attack (temporary stroke-like symptoms that may be a warning sign of an impending stroke)

Other causes of tingling tongue

Tingling tongue can also be caused by a variety of other conditions including:

  • Alcohol or tobacco abuse
  • Deficiency or excess of various minerals, such as calcium, sodium or potassium
  • Heavy metal poisoning
  • Medication side effects or interactions
  • Radiation exposure or radiation therapy
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency

Serious or life-threatening causes of tingling tongue

In some cases, tingling tongue may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These conditions include:

  • Head injury
  • Stroke

Questions for diagnosing the cause of tingling tongue

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your tingling tongue including:

  • When did you first notice the tingling tongue?
  • Have you had any head injuries or oral surgery recently?
  • Do you have any other symptoms associated with your tingling tongue?
  • Is the tingling better or worse at any time of day?
  • Is the tingling improving or getting worse?
  • What medications are you taking?

What are the potential complications of tingling tongue?

Tingling tongue is a sign that specific nerves or areas of your brain are injured or malfunctioning. The complications of tingling tongue vary widely depending on the underlying cause.

Because tingling tongue can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Loss of vision and blindness
  • Paralysis
  • Spread of cancer
  • Unconsciousness or coma
  • Weakness (loss of strength)


  1. Numbness and tingling. MedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003206.htm.
  2. Mononeuropathy. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001784/.

What is tingling tongue?

Tingling tongue is an unusual sensation on the tongue that can be described as a “pins-and-needles” (prickling) sensation or a burning feeling. Tingling is often associated with numbness, or a decrease in the ability to feel or sense pressure, taste or texture.

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What other symptoms might occur with tingling tongue?

Tingling tongue may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Common symptoms that may occur along with tingling tongue

Tingling tongue may accompany other symptoms including:

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 11, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mouth, Teeth and Oral Health