Why does my tongue feel too big for my mouth?
May 28, 2014 11:04 AM   Subscribe

For the past week I've been constantly aware of my tongue resting against my molars. It feels like my tongue's just a touch too small for my mouth. What gives?

I'm going on seven days now of near-constant awareness of my tongue -- and specifically, how it rests in my mouth. It feels almost as if my tongue is just a touch too big to sit comfortably between my molars.

As a result, in addition to the maddening "hey I'm your tongue something feels off hey remember me? I am a tongue you have a tongue" refrain, my salivary glands are working overtime (so much that they're sore) and I have an ongoing mild headache.

It feels a little like dry mouth. It feels a little like my bite's off. It feels a little bit like my molars have moved. It may just be a brand-new manifestation of a lifelong struggle with anxiety. (I'm especially thinking it's the latter because I don't always notice it; for example, I woke up at 7 this morning and I didn't notice it until 9:30 when I got to work.)

Has this ever happened to you? What did you do to make it go away?
posted by harperpitt to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I bet you it's seasonal allergies.

Your maxilla is all full of holes and sockets and places where your sinuses hang out, and referred tooth/mouth pain/sensitivity is a really, really common allergy symptom. (For me personally, the first sign that my seasonal allergies are kicking in is that I'm suddenly very aware of my teeth.) Allergies would be a likely culprit for your swollen salivary glands and headache as well.

I'm 99.9% sure here that you are totally and completely fine, and that this is just a way that your allergies manifest. (Just because you've never had this symptom before doesn't mean it's not one. I find a new allergy symptom every year. Most recently it's been micro-hives in my eyelids and now I get to use a prescription antihistamine eye drop. Yaaaay.)

Try taking a benadryl or two today and see how that plays out.
If it continues, you may want to try doing a daily 10mg loratidine for a while.
posted by phunniemee at 11:11 AM on May 28, 2014 [9 favorites]

I did have this once, some years ago-- it went away on its own after a week(?) and I forgot all about it until you reminded me. It was all in my head, and I mean that figuratively as well as punnily. It's probably some dormant survival mechanism that's misfiring.

Lately I have an awareness of when my tongue rests against the roof of my mouth-- this is a good thing when I'm sleeping because it discourages nasal breathing which makes my CPAP work better-- no idea how I trained into that, but it seems to have happened. Now I notice it all the time.

You could try wetting your mouth (slightly acidic, i.e. lemony water's good for this), changing up your breathing, chewing gum. Give your tongue more stimulus so your brain's not over-examining the small amounts of sense-information the tongue has when you're not eating. Your brain will literally get bored of same-old-same-old from your tongue, just like it has all the other weeks of your life.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:11 AM on May 28, 2014

I have not had this particular problem, but it sounds a lot like other things that do suddenly bother me when I'm suffering from anxiety.

My totally non-doctor guess would be that you are fighting off a little bit of an infection (or maybe allergies as suggested above). I do get that from time to time, where it's a bit sore under my jaw for a few days and then sometimes it turns into a sore throat/cold and sometimes it just goes away.
posted by karbonokapi at 11:13 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

OMG, phunniemee, I do have seasonal allergies and I haven't been taking anything. I just popped a Claritin out of the box I bought this morning -- fingers crossed!
posted by harperpitt at 11:18 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had an allergic reaction to almond paste (marzipan) and it felt just like this.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:47 AM on May 28, 2014

This happened to me once and it turned out to be an allergic reaction to Rainier cherries. Beautiful, delicious, tongue-swelling Rainier cherries. Regular boring red cherries don't have the same effect.

Anyway, you might want to think hard about what you've been eating to see if you can identify something you hadn't had before. Like delicious forbidden cherries.
posted by mullacc at 11:58 AM on May 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

I had this when I had mono, but it felt more like my tongue was the size of a small dolphin. The point being that an infection can do it too, presumably one less serious than mono.
posted by Capri at 12:42 PM on May 28, 2014

"I'm aware of my tongue!"

[linked for the included Peanuts cartoon, which addresses this situation (unfortunately without offering any solution..)]
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:44 PM on May 28, 2014 [5 favorites]

This used to happen to me a lot. After I started taking Synthroid for hypothyroidism it went away. Also happens occasionally when I'm sick and stuffed up.
posted by futureisunwritten at 12:48 PM on May 28, 2014

Is your to the actually swollen, or just seems larger? It can be hard to tell. Are you drinking enough water? My tongue swells up when I'm dehydrated. Sometimes you can tell because you get the "piecrust tongue" thing where it's pushing against your teeth.

Also maybe a minor infection/indication that your immune system is working overtime.
posted by catatethebird at 12:53 PM on May 28, 2014

If you are a woman, this could be related to hormones. I have this problem monthly and my dentist mentioned the connection.
posted by candyland at 1:25 PM on May 28, 2014

My tongue feels like this in reaction to things like tea, raw spinach, or most kinds of toothpaste. The problem seemed to be originally set off by trying a particular kind of toothpaste, but once it started my tongue was more sensitive to other things too. At its worst, it felt like my teeth were really rough (actually they were fine), and I noticed a daily cycle of improving overnight, then getting more noticeable throughout the day.

In my case it's not a "true allergy" but a hypersensitivity; Bendryl seemed to help anyway but made me sleepy. The long-term solution has been to identify and stop using things that cause it. (I use Biotene toothpaste now and my mouth is much happier.) Good luck in figuring yours out!
posted by hsieu at 2:04 PM on May 28, 2014

Guessing you would have noticed this, but did you burn your tongue or eat or drink something really acidic? Outside of being sick/getting a sore throat, that's the only other thing that makes me suddenly hyperaware of and annoyed by my tongue.
posted by yasaman at 3:33 PM on May 28, 2014

« Older what to expect when your best friend is expecting?   |   What's wrong with my machine? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.