MS can affect the sensation and movement of the mouth and tongue. Disability due to MS can affect oral hygiene, which can lead to dental problems or complications affecting the mouth, such as tongue sores.

MS symptoms and relapses may make it difficult for someone to maintain good oral hygiene. This can contribute to infections and sores in the mouth and on the tongue.

Some MS medications can affect the immune system, which can cause an increased risk of infections in the mouth, although it is an extremely rare complication.

People can improve their tongue sores by making some dietary and lifestyle changes, maintaining good oral hygiene, and managing the symptoms of dry mouth.

This article will review tongue issues that may relate to MS, its causes and symptoms, and how people can treat it.

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There is no medical definition for MS tongue, but some people with MS may have tongue problems due to the disease, such as numbness and difficulty moving the tongue. This might lead to speech difficulties, trouble chewing and swallowing, and diminished taste sensation.

People who experience MS tongue symptoms, such as numbness, may bite their tongue while speaking or chewing. This might create sores, possible infections, and cause pain.

Learn more about MS.

People with MS may experience symptoms related to their tongue, such as:

  • weaker tongue muscles
  • decreased endurance of the tongue muscle
  • reduced tongue motion range
  • diminished rate of repetitive motions
  • difficulties chewing
  • burning sensation on the tongue
  • tongue numbness
  • difficulties speaking
  • difficulties swallowing (dysphagia)

People with MS tongue who develop dysphagia may experience additional symptoms, including:

  • delayed gulp reflex
  • numbness in the throat and mouth
  • feeling food stuck in the throat
  • a new need to frequently clear the throat
  • coughing or a choking sensation when drinking or eating

Learn about how to assess MS symptoms.

If a person experiences any symptoms of MS tongue, such as sudden numbness, difficulties chewing, or trouble controlling their tongue movements, they should contact a doctor.

Doctors can perform relevant tests to understand the underlying causes of the symptoms and recommend the most appropriate treatment to improve the discomfort they may cause.

Learn more about early signs of MS.

MS can cause numbing of the tongue. People may accidentally bite their tongue while they speak or chew, as they cannot precisely control their tongue movements.

Learn more about the causes of MS and what the symptoms look like.

While there is no cure for MS, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several treatment options that can help slow down the progression of the disease and reduce the frequency of relapses, including oral medications. These may include:

Side effects

Some medications may cause some oral side effects, such as:

Learn more about MS medications.

To reduce the risk of oral health issues, people should make sure dentists know about their MS and describe their symptoms, such as mouth numbness, their level of disability, and how much they are able to manage their oral health at home. They should also detail any drugs or therapies they may be taking for MS to reduce the risk of drug interactions and maintain good oral hygiene.

Some tips that may make it easier for people with MS to maintain good oral health include:

  • using an electric toothbrush
  • using mouthwash regularly
  • using a toothbrush with a longer or wider handle to aid grip, such as an electric toothbrush
  • using interdental brushes instead of flossing, which can make it easier to clean between teeth
  • attending regular appointments with a dental hygienist to prevent gums and teeth problems

For people who smoke, consider quitting, as smoking can affect the teeth and mouth.

Learn more about smoking and MS.

There are several steps a person can take to maintain good oral hygiene, reduce the risk of infections, and reduce the burning sensation. This may include:

  • using only sugar-free chewing gum
  • taking frequent sips of water using a straw
  • using special dry-mouth toothpaste
  • avoiding acidic or spicy foods
  • eating cold food or at room temperature
  • eating soft or pureed meals, avoiding dry or coarse foods
  • cutting food into small bite-sized pieces
  • using alcohol-free mouthwash

Learn more about maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

There is no cure for MS. However, making lifestyle changes and following the medical treatment for MS that doctors prescribe can help reduce the progression of MS symptoms and their frequency, including tongue symptoms.

People with MS may experience numbness or a burning sensation in their tongue. This is because MS effects on the brain affect sensation.

MS can weaken the tongue’s muscles, making it more difficult to perform day-to-day activities, such as speaking, eating, and swallowing.

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