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Burning Tongue/Mouth Syndrome


Symptoms of burning mouth syndrome include:

  • A burning sensation that may affect your tongue, lips, gums, palate, throat or whole mouth
  • A tingling or numb sensation in your mouth or on the tip of your tongue
  • Mouth pain that worsens as the day progresses
  • A sensation of dry mouth
  • Increased thirst
  • Sore mouth
  • Loss of taste
  • Taste changes, such as a bitter or metallic taste

The pain from burning mouth syndrome typically has several different patterns. It may occur every day, with little pain when you wake but becoming worse as the day progresses. Or it may start as soon as you wake up and last all day. Or pain may come and go, and you may even have some entirely pain-free days.

Whatever pattern of mouth pain you have, burning mouth syndrome symptoms often last for years before proper diagnosis and treatment. In some cases, though, symptoms may suddenly go away on their own, or become less frequent. Burning mouth syndrome usually doesn't cause any noticeable physical changes to your tongue or mouth.


When the cause of burning mouth syndrome isn't known, the condition is called primary or idiopathic burning mouth syndrome. Sometimes burning mouth syndrome is caused by an underlying medical condition, such as a nutritional deficiency. In these cases, it's called secondary burning mouth syndrome.

Some research suggests that primary burning mouth syndrome is related to problems with taste and sensory nerves of the peripheral or central nervous system. Secondary burning mouth syndrome is a symptom of one or more underlying medical problems. Underlying problems that may be linked to secondary burning mouth syndrome include:

  • Dry mouth (xerostomia), which can be caused by various medications or health problems.
  • Other oral conditions, such as oral yeast infection (thrush), oral lichen planus and geographic tongue.
  • Psychological factors, such as anxiety, depression or excessive health worries.
  • Nutritional deficiencies, such as lack of iron, zinc, folate (vitamin B-9), thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and cobalamin (vitamin B-12).
  • Allergies or reactions to foods, food flavorings, other food additives, fragrances, dyes or other Nerve damage to nerves that control taste and pain in the tongue.
  • Dentures. Dentures can place stress on some of the muscles and tissues of your mouth, causing mouth pain. The materials used in dentures also can irritate the tissues in your mouth.
  • Reflux of stomach acid (gastroesophageal reflux disease) that enters your mouth from your upper gastrointestinal tract.
  • Certain medications, particularly high blood pressure medications called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.
  • Oral habits, such as tongue thrusting and teeth grinding (bruxism).
  • Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes and underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
  • Hormonal imbalances, such as those associated with menopause.
  • Excessive mouth irritation; this may result from over-brushing of your tongue, overuse of mouthwashes, or having too many acidic drinks.

In addition to medical treatment and prescription medications, self-help measures may help improve your symptoms. You may find these self-help measures beneficial for reducing chronic mouth pain:

  • Drink more fluids to help ease the feeling of dry mouth.
  • Don't use tobacco products.
  • Avoid products with cinnamon or mint.
  • Avoid spicy-hot foods.
  • Avoid acidic foods and liquids, such as tomatoes, orange juice, soft
    drinks and coffee.
  • Try different brands of toothpaste, such as those for sensitive teeth or
    make a baking soda and water paste.
  • Take steps to reduce excessive stress.

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