Have you noticed that lately, your tongue is rather stiff?

There are a number of possible causes, according to Dr. Stacey Silvers, MD, of Madison ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery in NYC, who is board certified in otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat).

List of possible causes of a stiff tongue

Dr. Silvers says, “Many things can affect the tongue: poor oral hygiene, different medications, infection, vitamin deficiencies, Sjogren’s syndrome, yeast infections, acid reflux, smoking and other tobacco use, excessive coffee intake and dehydration.”

Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder characterized primarily by impaired secretion of moisture by the lacrimal glands (tear glands of the eyes) and salivary glands.

A dry mouth can cause a stiff tongue.

Dr. Silvers continues, “Unless a patient has an issue with the salivary glands in general (Sjogren’s syndrome or a history of radiation to the oral cavity), then one blocked salivary gland by a calcification will not affect oral dryness, as the minor salivary glands play a large role in hydration.  Diagnostic testing involves reviewing diet and tobacco use.”

A doctor will also want to know about any medications that you began taking at around the time you started noticing that your tongue was getting stiff.

A physician may also want to take blood work to test for an underlying connective tissue disorder, adds Dr. Silvers. “Medications like Salogen (3-4 x per day) can improve oral hydration.”


Unfortunately, cancer of the tongue can cause it to be rigid, with reduced movements.

An NYC expert in ear, nose and throat care, Dr. Silvers has been named among America’s Top Physicians and Surgeons in facial plastic surgery and otolaryngology numerous times since 2003.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 



Top image: Shutterstock/Koldunov Alexey

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