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Mouth Diseases

Numbness Left Jaw & Tongue

10/19/2010

Question:

My husband for about three weeks has had numbness on Left Jaw & Tongue he has been to the doctors they have done test he has no infection in the mouth nothing showed up on the scans they have done. He has no other symptoms and no pain anywhere. He is a singer and after about three songs he starts going horse but still no pain. They looked at his vocal cords and said they look great. We are lost and do not know what to do??? He has it all the time for the past three weeks it does not come and go and it affects his tasting since his tongue is always numb. And it is only on the left side of his face can anyone help please.

Answer:

First off, has your husband had any invasive dental procedures performed recently? Second, what kinds of “Scans” were done, MRI with contrast or a CT scan?

Have you seen a Neurologist, Neurosurgeon or Otolaryngologist to evaluate the clinical signs and symptoms described above?

Without seeing the patient I can only presume what may be the cause of what is going on. Based upon the description of unilateral facial numbness and tongue involvement associated with numbness and alteration of taste perception, I would include Bell’s Palsy on my differential (damage to facial and glossopharyngeal nerves affecting the anterior 2/3s of the tongue and possible salivary flow alteration) age to the nerves can be the result of trauma or infection (Herpes Simplex or Bacterial). The presentation you describe may be related to some form or variant of Bell’s Palsy, but recent discussions in the literature mention that this may be a diagnosis of convenience, and further evaluation and testing is necessary.

Facial neuritis may also be the result of a sinus infection, whereas glossopharyngeal neuritis may present a pain or numbness of the throat, ear, and lower jaw and also affect the tongue (taste disorders, or burning sensation).

It is very important that you have this complex set of symptoms evaluated.

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Response by:

Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
School of Dental Medicine
Case Western Reserve University