Burning Mouth Syndrome (Symptoms, Causes and Treatment)

Burning Mouth Syndrome

What is Burning mouth syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome, likewise known as Glossodynia, is a painful burning sensation that is felt on the mouth in the absence of any known cause. The burning sensation is usually felt:

  • On the tip of the tongue
  • On top of the lips
  • In the inner part of the lips
  • The roof of the mouth (palate)
  • Inside of the jaw (cheeks)
  • Side of the lips
  • The gums

How long does it take for burning mouth syndrome to go away? Burning mouth syndrome is a disorder that appears suddenly and severely. It is an ongoing or recurrent sensation that goes on for years.

Burning Mouth Syndrome can sometimes lead to insomnia (difficulty falling asleep), restlessness, anxiety, mood swings, lack of appetite, and depression.

Symptoms of Burning mouth syndrome

For most people, burning mouth syndrome symptoms can occur in the morning, worsen during the day and get more acute at night. The pain can be persistent or recurrent.

Here are the signs and symptoms of burning mouth syndrome:

  • A burning sensation that is felt in different parts of the mouth that can occur mildly in the morning and get worse gradually as the day goes by.
  • A scalding sensation that starts from the mouth and radiates to the throat (feeling like the mouth is on fire or a hot liquid was poured on the tongue)
  • Loss of taste or having a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth
  • A stinging feeling of lips or tongue
  • Numbness of lips
  • The burning sensation that gets better with drinking or chewing.
  • Dry mouth with increase thirst.

Cause of burning mouth syndrome

The cause of burning mouth syndrome are: 

  • Age/ being a menopausal woman: Burning mouth syndrome is more common in menopausal women compared to men of similar age.
  • Previous dental procedures (Dental work/poorly fitting dentures)
  • Benign migratory glossitis: likewise known as the geographic tongue, is a condition that causes patches of the tongue that look like smooth red islands (like a map).
  • Immunodeficiency state: which could result from taking certain medications such as steroids, chemotherapy or certain disorders such as HIV/AIDS or autoimmune disorders such as Diabetes type 1 or hypothyroidism
  • Dysfunction of Sensory nerves of the peripheral nervous system or central nervous system
  • Disorders that cause dry mouth such as scleroderma or Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Oral thrush (candidiasis of the mouth)
  • Deficiency of certain vitamins such as Vit B12, B9, B1, B6, or B 2.
  • Excessive use of mouth wash
  • Allergic reactions to certain foods or spices such as cinnamon or mint
  • Oral lichen planus
  • Iron deficiency
  • Zinc deficiency
  • Teeth grinding or tongue biting.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Excessive acidic drink consumption
  • Use of hard/abrasive toothbrushes
  • Depression or Anxiety disorder
  • Emotional stress/Posttraumatic stress disorder (traumatic life events)

What medications cause burning tongue syndrome? 

Medication that can induce burning mouth syndrome is antihypertensive medications or reaction to antimalarial medications.

Treatment of Burning mouth syndrome

Burning Mouth Syndrome is a difficult disorder because there is no cure. Avoiding trigger factors such as tobacco, stressful situations, spicy foods, acidic drink, lemon, or food consumption such as tomatoes can reduce the severity of the burning sensation.

The treatment options available for managing burning mouth syndrome are: 

  • Capsaicin (pain reliever made from chili peppers).
  • Amitriptyline (blocks nerve pain).
  • Nortriptyline (blocks nerve pain).
  • Iron supplements
  • Vitamin replacements
  • Zinc supplements
  • Clonazepam (an anticonvulsant).
  • Hormone replacements for menopausal women.
  • Oral rinses
  • Other Antidepressants to regulate mood
  • Stress management techniques

Drinking plenty of water, and using flavor-free toothpaste for sensitive teeth can relieve symptoms.

For more information about burning mouth syndrome, you should talk to your physician.