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Burning Mouth Syndrome – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

What is Burning Mouth Syndrome ?

The mouth or the oral cavity is the entry point of food where it is the beginning of digestion. Apart from that, the mouth plays an important role in communication. When talking an individual uses their tongue, lips and jaw to properly utter the words and the voice box is located in the throat. Yet, aside from this, the oral cavities especially the lips are used in sexual activities like kissing.


One of the problems in the oral cavity or the mouth is the burning mouth syndrome. This is also called as glossodynia which is a condition wherein there is a continuous burning sensation of the oral mucosa in the mouth. This is a chronic pain wherein it mostly involves the tongue but sometimes it extends into the gums, lips, insides of cheeks, and the palates. Burning mouth syndrome is an idiopathic condition or the cause is apparently unknown but BMS is often associated with an underlying disease or condition.

There are three classifications of burning mouth syndrome. The first one or the type 1 is asymptomatic when waking up but the pain progresses throughout the day. The type 2 exhibits symptoms throughout the day but it becomes generally asymptomatic at night. This is often associated with chronic anxiety. The last or the type 3 has intermittent symptoms as day progresses. There are also days wherein it is asymptomatic and it is often linked with food allergies.

According to statistics only about 4% of prevalence worldwide and women are more likely to experience it than men. Also, burning mouth syndrome is often observed in patients older than 30 years old. And the occurrence of 3-to-12-times fold as the age increases and ethnicity or race is not much of an issue in the burning mouth syndrome.

Burning Mouth Syndrome Symptoms

  1. Pain – The pain felt in burning mouth syndrome varies and occurs in different patterns. It depends on what type of BMS is the person experiencing. Sometimes it becomes pain-free in various days and sometimes, the pain occurs right away after waking up until the day ends.
  2. Dry mouth
  3. Increased thirst
  4. Burning sensation in the oral cavity which includes the tongue, lips, gums, throat, the palate
  5. Mouth sores
  6. Tingling sensation in the mouth
  7. Loss of taste
  8. Loss of appetite
  9. Metallic taste

Burning Mouth Syndrome Causes

Like other diseases, burning mouth syndrome has 2 causes- Primary and secondary burning mouth syndrome.

1. Primary burning mouth syndrome

The cause of this is unknown or idiopathic.

2. Secondary burning mouth syndrome

There are underlying medical conditions as to why burning mouth syndrome occurs. Conditions like:

  • Dry mouth or xerostomia
  • Yeast infections or oral thrus; oral lichen planus or geographic tongue
  • Psychological factors like anxiety, depression
  • Nutritional problems zinc, iron folate or vitamin b-9 deficiencies. Lack of thiamin or vitamin B1, riboflavin or vitamin B2, pyridoxine or vitamin B6, and cobalamin or vitamin B12.
  • Allergic reactions to food and flavorings
  • GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Anti-hypertensive medications
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • mouth irritations

Burning Mouth Syndrome Treatment

Patients would consult their doctors or dentist because of the chronic pain that they encounter along with other symptoms. After a thorough review of the medical history and physical exam, test will be done. it includes blood test where a complete blood count along with the glucose level and thyroid function tests will be examined. Oral cultures by taking oral swabs will also be done to see if there bacterial, fungal or viral infection in the oral cavity. Salivary tests will also be measured to ensure that there is enough salivary flow in the oral cavity.

Mostly in treating the burning mouth syndrome, the underlying cause is treated first because it improves the symptoms felt by the patient. However, if the burning mouth syndrome primary or has unknown cause, the treatment is challenging because there is no known cure for the problem. However, physicians would suggest taking the following as part of the treatment options:

  • Taking of vitamins especially B vitamins
  • Saliva replacement products
  • Clonazepam or Klonopin, a lozenge-type of anticonvulsant medication
  • Cognate behavioral therapy
  • Anti depressants
  • Pain reliever from chili peppers or Capsaicin
  • Oral rinses or moutwashes
  • Anti-oxidants
  • Alpha-Lipoic acid is also prescribed to be taken either in 600mg or 800 mg to be taken daily in about 3 to 4 doses. This has been found to reduce symptoms of the burning mouth syndrome

Burning Mouth Syndrome Home Remedies

There are also home remedies or natural treatments to be done in patients with burning mouth syndrome. This includes the following:

  • Sipping of water frequently to avoid dehydration this also moisturizes the palate, mouth, tongue and gums and to lessen the pain or tingling sensation
  • Chewing sugarless gums can help increase the saliva especially for patients where there is a significant decrease of saliva
  • Brushing the teeth or dentures with baking soda and water
  • Ceasing alcohol intake
  • Stop smoking
  • It helps to suck in ice chips
  • They should also avoid irritating foods like spicy foods
  • They should also avoid rinsing mouthwash that contains alcohol
  • They should also avoid eating products high in acid like citrus fruits, tomatoes, coffee and juices
  • They should avoid taking products with cinnamon or mint
  • Stressful events should be avoided
  • Diet should also be taken into consideration. since they need to eat foods high in iron like spinach, parsley, broccoli to help repair the Tissue damage brought by the condition.
  • Since B vitamins are lacking in an individual with burning mouth syndrome, it is advised that they will eat foods high in vitamin B12 like milk, egg yolk, poultry, liver, some dairy products.
  • Using ayurvedic herb Triphala with Baboon decoction can be used to garling to help relieve burning sensation
  • It can also be helpful to drink cold water with a tablespoon of honey also helps decrease the burning sensation.
  • Milk with honey can also be taken and it is thought to help increase the blood flow into the tongue.

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