What is burning mouth syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome or burning tongue syndrome is the pain and burning feelings like tingling, irritations, and aching sensation in your mouth. The causes of the burning mouth is not clear and it sometimes comes and goes with no clear cause. Even you may live years with its pain. It can cause doctors or dentists a bit of a challenge to finally figure out the main cause and be able to start the treatment.

The burning sensation can be almost anywhere in your mouth and your tongue. Sometimes, it can be felt in the roof of your mouth, your entire oral mucosa (inner mouth skin), or the inner soft tissues of your lips. But the most affected site for burning mouth is your tongue and because of this, it is also called a burning tongue.

Who is likely to get burning mouth syndrome?

Unknown causes and sudden feeling of burning mouth and tongue can affect anybody. But it is a common oral problem among:

  • Women in their postmenopausal age
  • More women than men
  • Adults above 40 years of age
  • It is rare in both adolescents and children
What causes burning mouth syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome can come and go and it is difficult to aim for a specific cause. Doctors or dentists can rule out responsible factors by examining all the possible causes through check-ups, history of your medication, psychological health, stress levels, and finally oral health.

The main causes of burning mouth syndrome are:

  • Mineral and vitamin deficiencies (vitamin B12, zinc and iron)
  • Dry mouth especially one that is caused by Sjӧgren’s syndrome
  • Postmenopausal hormonal changes
  • Neurological problems
  • Psychological problems like anxiety, depression, and phobias
  • Dental procedures like tooth extraction or dentures and bridges placement in your mouth
  • Immune system diseases and deficiencies  
  • Ill-fitting dentures, which can irritate gums and lips
  • Oral fungal diseases like thrush
  • Certain types of mouthwashes especially those containing alcohol
  • Blood pressure medications

What are the symptoms of burning mouth?

  • Sudden, frequent pain in your mouth including the inner cheeks, your palate, gums, and lips but mostly it affects your tongue
  • Feeling of dry mouth
  • Changes in taste like you feel salt and metallic tastes in your mouth
  • Tingling and numbness sensations in your mouth 
  • No distinctive changes of color of your mouth and it looks normal
  • The pain appears during the day and worsens to the late evening
  • A chronic intermittent mouth or tongue burning feelings, which can last through the weeks and even years

How long do you feel mouth burns?

Mouth burning syndrome or tongue burns can be mild constant pain which gets worse in the evening times. The burning feeling and tingling of mouth burning syndrome can be severe and be present all the time. The irritations and pain usually go away by itself and may come back again.

Treatments for burning mouth syndrome

When the doctor or dentist finally finds the cause of your mouth burning, then you are treated with this burning irritations and sensation in your mouth with the following ways:

  • If the burning mouth syndrome is caused by any nutritional deficiencies, you will be given vitamin and mineral supplements.
  • If your dentures size does not fit or your bridge is causing burning sensations in your mouth, so you need a dentist’s visit to remake or repair your denture and bridgework.
  • When burning mouth or burning tongue is due to possible mouth fungal infections like oral thrush, clotrimazole or nystatin are two topical medications that are useful to alleviate the irritations.
  • If your mouth or tongue burn is caused by stress, anxiety, or neurological problems, your dentist refers you to psychological counseling with a psychologist or you need a neurologist visit to treat your discomfort. 

Common medications for burning mouth treatment:

After examinations by your doctor or dentist or even specialists like psychologist or neurologist, you may need to take some drugs to relieve the mouth and tongue burn pain. There are a number of medications that can be prescribed in case of constant feelings of burning tongue syndrome due to a possible certain cause:

  • Antidepressant drugs
  • Clotrimazole or nystatin
  • Saliva substitute products
  • Topical steroids (e.g. betamethasone)
  • Vitamin supplements
  • Oral care products like mouthwashes

Home remedies to prevent or stop burning mouth

  • Drink more water and suck on ice. Water keeps the moist in your mouth and prevents dry mouth and ice gives the numbing feeling to avoid pain.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol because of the risks of dry mouth, which is one of the possible reasons that lead to burning mouth and tongue.
  • Avoid hot coffee and hot, acidic, spicy foods and drinks since these types of foods trigger your mouth burn feelings naturally let alone when you are already in pain of burning mouth syndrome.
  • Brush your teeth gently and avoid abrasive toothpaste and toothbrushes.
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