Burning Mouth Syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome is a chronic condition of the mouth with no obvious cause. It causes discomfort to wide areas of the mouth, including the tongue, lips, gums, roof of the mouth, back of the throat, and insides of your cheeks. Burning mouth syndrome can occur without warning, and the symptoms can be severe and prolonged. Other terms for this condition include burning tongue syndrome, burning lips syndrome, scalded mouth syndrome, stomatodynia and glossodynia. Burning mouth syndrome seems to affect women more than men and can have debilitating effects on your life.

Causes of Burning Mouth Syndrome

The causes of burning mouth syndrome are not completely understood, but there are many factors that play a role in the development of this condition.

1. Anxiety and Depression

While mental health problems don’t outright cause burning mouth syndrome, they certainly can contribute to it. Suffering from chronic anxiety and depression can cause stress and frustration in the patient, thus aggravating the condition. The stress can lead to habits such as teeth grinding which will irritate the tongue and lips.

2. Diabetes

Having diabetes can make a patient more susceptible to changes in the structure of small blood vessels in the mouth. This can lead to numbness and a lower threshold for pain, but the patient doesn’t immediately know that there is something wrong. Diabetes also makes patients more vulnerable to oral infections such as thrush which can create an environment for burning mouth syndrome.

3. Dry Mouth

Also called xerostomia, dry mouth can be the result of certain oral medications, such as those for depression and anxiety. Diseases and disorders such as Sjogren’s syndrome can also lead to dry mouth. Sipping water throughout the day can help lessen the effects of dry mouth, and over-the-counter toothpastes and mouth rinses can also have effects.

4. Menopause

Hormonal changes occur within the body in menopause. These same hormonal changes can affect the oral health of menopausal women. The burning sensation associated with burning mouth yyndrome is a common occurrence with menopause. At this time, only hormone replacement treatment has been able to treat and alleviate the burning sensation.

5. Nutritional Deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies can contribute to burning mouth syndrome in some patients. Specifically, a lack of folate, ironand Vitamin B complex has been associated with the burning mouth sensation. In most cases, treating the deficiency by increasing dietary intake of these nutrients can alleviate symptoms.

6. Oral Candidiasis

Commonly known as thrush, oral candidiasis is a fungal infection of the mouth that can cause a burning sensation. The infection causes cottage cheese-like lesions in the mouth. The consumption of spicy foods can exacerbate the burning sensation.

7. Other Causes

These include acid reflux disease, irritation from dentures, low thyroid hormones, contact allergies, cancer therapy, tongue thrusting, and changes in saliva and antihypertensive medications.

Symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome

The most common symptom of burning mouth syndrome is a persistent burning sensation in and around the soft tissue of the mouth and lips, which can be moderate or severe. The pain can be chronic or intermittent, and it can dissipate somewhat at night. Other symptoms may include a dry and/or sore mouth, bitter or metallic taste, other changes in taste, and a numbness or tingling sensation in the tip of your tongue. Depression and anxiety is common in patients with burning mouth syndrome.

When to See a Doctor

You should consult with your doctor or dentist as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms, as well as burning of the lips, back of the throat, gums, tongue, or insides of cheeks. Your doctor or dentist can determine the cause of your pain and treat the problem properly.

Diagnosis of Burning Mouth Syndrome

Because there are a number of causes of burning mouth syndrome, your health care professional will have to run a few tests to rule out other problems that may cause the burning sensation and other symptoms you may be suffering from. These tests include:

Tests & Diagnosis


Blood Tests

Blood tests can help determine if there is a specific cause for your symptoms. They can test thyroid function, nutritional deficiencies, immune function, blood sugar levels, and blood count.

Allergy Tests

Allergies to certain foods or other substances can cause mouth irritation and the burning sensation. Allergy tests can determine if this may be the cause of your discomfort.

Oral Cultures or Biopsies

Bacterial or fungal infections can cause the symptoms of a burning mouth. Your doctor can do the test to confirm or rule out these infections.

Salivary Measurement

A reduction or change in salivary flow can cause a dry mouth, causing irritation and burning mouth symptoms.

Gastric Reflux Tests

Acid reflux can usually lead to mouth dryness and discomfort. The test can determine if you suffer from gastric reflex.

Imaging Tests

There may be other health problems you and your doctor are unaware of that can contribute to oral discomfort. Imaging tests such as MRI or CAT scan can rule certain issues out.

Temporarily Stopping Medication

Certain medications can cause a dry mouth, leading to pain and other discomfort in the mouth and surrounding tissue. Stopping medication for a short time can determine if this is the cause of your burning mouth.

Psychological Questionnaires

Your doctor may ask that you answer certain questions to help determine if you may be suffering from depression or anxiety. This can help to decide the treatment options for your oral symptoms.

Treatments of Burning Mouth Syndrome

After confirming or ruling out other possible causes for your burning mouth and other oral discomfort, the treatments ofburning mouth syndrome are dependent with the causes. Treating diabetes, anxiety and dispersion, taking some supplements for nutrition and prescribing some medications to relieve mouth uncomforted condition can be applied.

Home Remedies

Sometimes simple changes to lifestyle and some home remedies can help alleviate the burning, such as avoiding alcohol-based mouth rinses, spicy foods, and beverages with high acid content. Brushing with baking soda and peroxide can also help ease your symptoms. You may increase your fluid intake or suck on ice chips. Stress relief is also a good idea.

For further information about the treatments, you can see the following video: