Burning tongue syndrome is burning pain in the mouth that may occur every day for months or longer. Doctors and dentists do not have a specific test for burning mouth syndrome, which makes it hard to diagnose. No specific treatment works for all people. However, your doctor can prescribe medicine to help you manage mouth pain, dry mouth, or other symptoms.
Symptoms of burning tounge syndrome may include:
- A burning or scalded sensation that most commonly affects your tongue, but may also affect your lips, gums, palate, throat or whole mouth
- A sensation of dry mouth with increased thirst
- Taste changes, such as a bitter or metallic taste
- Loss of taste
The discomfort from burning mouth syndrome typically has several different patterns. It may:
- Occur every day, with little discomfort when you wake, but become worse as the day progresses
- Start as soon as you wake up and last all day
- Come and go
Whatever pattern of mouth discomfort you have, burning mouth syndrome may last for months to years. In rare cases, symptoms may suddenly go away on their own or become less frequent. Some sensations may be temporarily relieved during eating or drinking.
Burning mouth syndrome usually doesn’t cause any noticeable physical changes to your tongue or mouth.
Underestimating the temperature of steam, hot food, or liquids can cause a burn on your tongue, mouth, or lips. Frequently eating and drinking extremely hot food and beverages without testing the temperature puts you at a higher risk for tongue burn. Burning tongue syndrome is a condition that can make you feel the sensation of a burn on your tongue for no apparent reason.
Postmenopausal women are at an increased risk for burning tongue syndrome. This sensation can be related to lower estrogen levels, which can cause a decline in the sensitivity of taste buds.
The two types of burning tongue syndrome are primary and secondary. In primary burning mouth syndrome, there is no known cause. Secondary burning mouth syndrome is likely caused by another medical condition.
Secondary burning mouth syndrome may be caused by:
- dry mouth, which is often a side effect of medications or a symptom of another medical condition
- thrush, which is an oral yeast infection
- oral lichen planus, which is an often chronic inflammation inside the mouth that’s caused by the immune system launching an attack on the mouth’s mucous membrane cells
- geographic tongue, which is a condition in which the tongue’s surface is missing some of its typical small bumps called papillae and instead has areas of red and sometimes raised patches that tend to disappear and then reappear in different areas of the tongue
- vitamin deficiencies
- extreme worry
- damage to the nerves
- allergic reaction to certain foods
- stomach acid that makes its way into the mouth from conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD
- medications, such as those used for high blood pressure
- diabetes, hypothyroidism, and other endocrine disorders
- an imbalance of hormones, such as during menopause
- grinding the teeth, brushing the teeth too hard, using mouthwash too often, and other unhealthy oral habits
Home Remedies and Relief
Applying Aloe Vera gel over the burning tongue two or three times a day can relieve the burning sensation.
Honey is another natural treatment that can help soothe the burning sensation and even help fight infection. It can also reduce pain and inflammation.
Application of ice cubes over the burning areas may reduce the pain in those areas.
Mint also helps reduce burning sensations in your mouth. This cooling herb has antibacterial property inhibits the growth of bacteria in the mouth, which prevents infection-related problems.
Sugar Free Gum
Chewing sugar free gum can temporarily relieve the burning sensation.
Lavender is another effective remedy for burning tongue. It helps disinfect the mouth and soothe the burning sensation.
Rinsing the mouth with cold apple juice can cool the burning tongue.
Baking soda can be used for brushing the teeth, instead of commercial toothpaste.
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an effective treatment for burning tongue. This powerful antioxidant helps protect the body against free radicals. It even helps restore the functioning of damaged nerve cells and prevents further damage.
A 2002 study published in the Journal of Oral Pathology and Medicine supports ALA as an effective remedy for burning mouth syndrome.
This double-blind, controlled study was conducted for two months on 60 patients with constant burning mouth syndrome. In this study, treatment with ALA significantly improved symptoms.
Iron-rich food like dates, bran flakes, sesame seeds, and cashew nuts can also be taken. Also, diet with leafy vegetables, juices, food rich in vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, zinc, etc can reduce the burning sensation.
Triphala And Babool Decoctions
Gargling with a decoction prepared of the ayurvedic herb, triphala, is a good home remedy for burning tongue. This is said to be cooling for the tongue.
A mouth rinse with water and a few drops of Tabasco sauce can relieve the pain in the tongue. A chemical known as capsaicin present in the Tabasco sauce depletes a pain signalling chemical in the nerve cells, thereby relieving the associated pain.
Some Suggestions for Burning Tongue
There are some known factors that could increase your chances of suffering from burning and irritation of the tongue. For example, you are at a higher risk if you are 50 years and above and are a woman. Other evidence shows that if you have a high density of taste buds on your tongue, you may be more likely to develop burning tongue syndrome. Similarly if you suffer from chronic upper respiratory tract infections, dental problems or food allergies, the odds are higher as well. It is important to know the risk factors involved with such a syndrome as it can help determine the cause of the condition and make it easier to receive more accurate treatment for the same.