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Mouth Diseases

Numb mouth and tongue

07/18/2006

Question:

hi - this is driving me nuts. started about 4/5 months ago with a sore right ear and a pain in the right hand side of my neck. right hand side of my tongue and gums and mouth feel like i have had an injection at the dentist, numb, tingly with a metalic taste all the time. cant taste food properly. very very very dry mouth although i drink a lot of water - cant hardly swallow in the morning and often have a white covering over my tongue. been to doctor and dentist and have been referred to the medical section at the hospital who have seen me twice and have no idea what is wrong with me - they think it will get better on its own. used to smoke but gave up one year ago. have a good diet with meat and vegetables. can you please please help me. many thanks.

Answer:

The symptoms that you are describing could certainly be consistent with a condition known as burning mouth syndrome.  For reasons that no one understands, the nerves that transmit information about how the mouth feels (sensory nerves) seem to send inaccurate information to the brain.  Therefore, pain/numbness, taste disturbances, and alterations in perception of texture (feelings of dryness, sliminess, swelling, etc) may be present, either alone or in any combination.  

More information about this problem can be found at the website www.aaomp.org.

The only slightly peculiar aspect of your situation is the fact that it is apparently affecting only one side of your mouth and face.  For this reason, it would be prudent to get an MRI or CT of the head and neck.  A few patients will present with symptoms on one side, so I wouldn't worry about this too much.  Even though there is no medically proven treatment for this condition, it usually goes away for most patients eventually.

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Response by:

Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD
Professor Emeritus of Oral Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University