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Burning Mouth Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Medically reviewed by Grazielle Millo-Paderes, DDM, MSc · Dentistry · Unihealth-Parañaque Hospital and Medical Center

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Feb 11, 2022

    Burning Mouth Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

    Have you ever experienced a burning pain in your mouth with no accurate cause in sight? The pain can often be experienced either on the roof of your mouth, on the tip of your tongue, or even in your mucus membranes. In some cases, it can even be experienced in other areas of the mouth. This condition is known as burning mouth syndrome, or glossodynia. It is also called burning tongue. Once contracted, it can last for many years.

    There are two types of glossodynia: primary and secondary. Primary glossodynia is a chronic intraoral condition that often happens in older people. The pain is severe. On the other hand, secondary glossodynia usually happens when there is an underlying medical condition inducing it.

    The peculiar thing about this syndrome is that there is no singular test that can identify it. In fact, one way to find out whether you have this syndrome is via ruling out other issues. A general examination by the doctor can confirm that.

    Burning mouth syndrome mostly happens in postmenopausal women. It can be triggered by something as simple as a customary visit to the dentist.

    Symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome

    The symptoms of this syndrome are quite defined. Most of the time, it is defined by a peculiar burning sensation or pain in the following areas of the mouth:

    • Roof
    • Tip of the tongue
    • Inside the lower lip
    • Metallic taste when the mouth is dry

    These symptoms worsen in the afternoon or in the evening, and the effects are light during the night, almost to the point of no feeling. Burning mouth syndrome symptoms are known to last for years, even though there may be slight improvement due to the body’s inner healing and defense mechanism.

    burning mouth syndrome

    Causes and Risk Factors

    As mentioned earlier, there is no particular reason identified for burning mouth syndrome. Most of the time, it is diagnosed by exception, i.e. the doctors conduct tests to rule out other possibilities, and when none occur, it turns out the patient is suffering from the syndrome. That being said, there are a few risk factors that can be identified.

    • If you have been suffering from chronic headaches
    • Certain nutritional deficiencies such as Vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B 12, along with zinc and folate
    • Oral candidiasis can also be one of the reasons
    • Allergic contact dermatitis to dental products such as toothpaste and mouthwashes
    • Some medications

    Mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression induced due to postmenopausal conditions and hormonal imbalance can also trigger this syndrome. Stress indeed plays a huge part in affecting our body adversely.


    The diagnosis of burning mouth syndrome or burning tongue is by exception. The doctor will test for every other infection and syndrome and rule them out to finally decide that you have been suffering from this particular syndrome.

    In most of the cases, just like in the case of any other diagnosis, the medical professional will go on to check your medical history, examine the affected area, and ask about your oral care routine.

    Apart from the aforementioned which form a part of common medical examination practices, in the case of this syndrome, there are a few more things that a doctor may do.

    • Saliva measurement tests as burning tongue often leads to a dry mouth
    • Blood tests to check glucose level, blood count, and immune system’s functionality
    • Sampling tissues from the mouth to determine if there is any viral of fungal infection
    • Gastric reflux tests to see if there is a possibility of GERD or Gastroesophageal reflux disease
    • MRI or CT scans to delve deeper into the issue
    • Psyche evaluation via questionnaires to figure out any mental health issues that may be leading to physical syndromes

    This list of tests is by no means comprehensive, but you may refer to it while diagnosing burning mouth syndrome.


    The treatment of glossodynia often depends on the type of condition that you have; primary or secondary. Let’s take a look:

    Primary Burning Mouth Syndrome Treatment

    Primary glossodynia can resolve on its own. However, you must take certain precautions to improve the symptoms:

    • Get rid of citrus and acidic foods and fruits which may elevate the sensation.
    • Suck on small ice chips to lessen the burning sensation.
    • Limit or do away the consumption of oily and spicy food.
    • Try changing your toothpaste to one more suitable for sensitive gums and mouth conditions.
    • Colgate recommends rinsing your mouth with a mixture of 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/8 tsp salt and 1 cup warm water. Then perform a plain water rinse. Too much baking soda can be toxic, so make sure you do not swallow.
    • Indulge in meditation, yoga, and exercise to bring down stress levels.

    Secondary Burning Mouth Syndrome Treatment

    An underlying medical condition can trigger secondary burning mouth syndrome. In such cases, the doctor may conduct a few tests to diagnose the situation, and then go on to treat them specifically.

    • In the case of a mouth infection, your doctor prescribes you medication to relieve pain as well as do away with the infection.
    • If you are suffering from acid reflux, the doctor usually recommends medicines that can help calm down the stomach.
    • If dry mouth is inducing burning tongue in your case, doctors prescribe medicines that can increase the production of saliva in the mouth, along with vitamin shots.

    You can also do a self-check and determine if an allergen is causing the burning mouth syndrome. You can do this by checking all the products that you may have changed in the last two weeks, from cosmetics to oral hygiene products.

    Burning mouth syndrome may be a long-lasting condition, but certainly one that a person can live through with proper precautions and certain medications.

    Lifestyle Changes

    One fun way to make burning mouth syndrome bearable without any hassle is to keep oneself adequately hydrated and chewing gum. This will keep the discomfort at bay.

    All in all, this syndrome may not be a life-threatening issue, but more like a life-altering one. You have to decide what changes you want to bring about in your life to counter the sensation.

    Learn more about Oral Health here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Grazielle Millo-Paderes, DDM, MSc

    Dentistry · Unihealth-Parañaque Hospital and Medical Center

    Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Feb 11, 2022

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