Burning Mouth Syndrome – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


Burning mouth syndrome , also known as burning tongue or chronic oral pain syndrome, is an unpleasant sensory disorder that often torments those affected for months or years. Treatment is difficult because the disease can be triggered by many different factors. In addition to mouth and tooth problems, hormonal disorders, allergies, neurological diseases or psychological problems can also be considered.

What is Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome, a burning, sore feeling in the area of ​​the tongue and the surrounding mucous membranes, primarily affects women in their fifth to seventh decade of life.

The intensity of the sensory disturbance ranges from a slight tingling to a burning, stabbing pain . It is not uncommon for other symptoms such as tingling , itching , dry mouth , a feeling of fur, disturbances in the sense of taste and a reduction in salivation to occur. The sensory disturbances are usually felt on the edges of the tongue and the tip, but sometimes the abnormal sensation can also extend to the mucous membranes of the cheeks, palate and lips .

The symptoms, which occur permanently in some sufferers and only intermittently in others, usually increase in the course of a day with burning mouth syndrome, so that the severity is strongest in the evening.


There are many causes of burning mouth syndrome. In addition to underlying diseases such as vitamin or iron deficiency , anemia , diabetes mellitus , scleroderma , lupos, multiple sclerosis or reflux disease , mouth and tooth problems such as tooth decay, gingivitis or ulcers in the oral mucosa can also be the cause of burning tongue.

Sometimes the burning mouth syndrome is also triggered by poorly fitting prostheses, sharp tooth edges or protruding crown edges, which lead to irritation or damage to the tongue or oral mucosa. An allergy to braces or the metals in tooth fillings are also possible factors that can be responsible for a burning sensation in the mouth.

It is not uncommon for no physical cause to be identified for the painful sensory disturbance. Stress , anxiety and depression can be the triggers for the burning in the mouth and not only increase the pain, but also prolong the suffering, since the burning mouth syndrome is difficult to treat if there are psychological causes.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The symptoms and complaints of burning mouth syndrome are very unpleasant and also have a very negative effect on the quality of life of those affected. The patients primarily suffer from a very pronounced burning sensation on the tongue . This can also lead to severe pain and other unpleasant feelings in the mouth in general.

The Burning Mouth Syndrome also makes everyday life of those affected significantly more difficult. Normal intake of food and liquids is usually no longer possible without further ado and is then associated with severe pain. If the burning mouth syndrome is triggered by an allergy, other symptoms of this allergy usually also occur .

The syndrome itself often spreads to the face, so that burning or itching can also occur there . Furthermore, the burning mouth syndrome can also have a negative effect on the teeth, so that many of those affected also suffer from tooth decay . This can also cause severe pain in the teeth or gums. The syndrome also leads to psychological problems and depression in many patients , so that treatment by a psychologist is often necessary.

Diagnosis & History

Sufferers of Burning Mouth Syndrome often turn to their dentist for help . In a detailed anamnesis interview, he first asks the patient about the duration and intensity of the burning pain and about other symptoms.

A visual examination of the teeth and oral mucosa is then carried out, during which the dentist can identify existing irritations and diseases within the mouth, jaw and face area. If the causes are not in the dental field, depending on the suspicion, internists, ENT doctors , gynaecologists , neurologists , dermatologists or psychologists can be consulted, who then carry out the further examinations.

If the tongue is infected with fungus, a smear is taken and later examined under a microscope in the laboratory. If there is a suspicion of anemia, iron and vitamin deficiencies or diabetes mellitus, a blood test will provide clarity. An allergy test provides information about existing allergies that can be the cause of burning mouth syndrome.

When should you go to the doctor?

Since Burning Mouth Syndrome does not heal itself, a doctor must always be consulted with this disease in order to treat the symptoms and signs of this disease. As a rule, the doctor should be consulted if there is a burning sensation on the tongue. An examination by a doctor is necessary, especially in the case of a long-lasting burning sensation, which also occurs without a particular reason.

In this way, further complications can be avoided. In most cases, the burning can also spread to the entire oral cavity and thus indicate the burning mouth syndrome. A doctor should also be consulted if there are complaints in the face or teeth.

Burning Mouth Syndrome is usually diagnosed and treated by a dentist . However, in many cases further treatment is carried out by another specialist if the cause of the disease cannot be found in the oral cavity. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the better the symptoms can be treated.

Treatment & Therapy

Treatment of burning mouth syndrome depends on the underlying cause. As a rule, complete freedom from pain is not achieved within a short period of time, since the symptoms often persist for a longer period of time.

If the burning pain is an accompanying symptom of an underlying disease, the pain will slowly subside after the appropriate treatment or there will be an improvement. In the case of anemia, iron or vitamin deficiency, the administration of tablets is usually sufficient. In severe cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary. Diabetes mellitus can be treated well with a change in diet and weight reduction coupled with the administration of insulin in tablet or syringe form.

Tooth decay is removed with a drill and then filled with metal or plastic. Inflammation of the gums recedes with thorough oral hygiene . If there is an allergy to the materials of the tooth fillings or dentures, these must be removed and replaced with other materials. If there are no organic causes for the burning tongue, psychological support is required.

As part of therapy, the patient learns to live with the disease and see a reduction in pain perception as a success of the treatment. Sometimes the administration of antidepressants can have a positive effect on the perception of pain. A special pain therapy in the form of a repeated, mutual blockade of the ganglion stellatum with a local anesthetic with a long-term effect can not only alleviate the symptoms of the burning mouth syndrome, but also eliminate the sensation of pain.

Outlook & Forecast

Since Burning Mouth Syndrome can be triggered by various factors, it is often very difficult to treat the disease, so that those affected suffer from the symptoms of the syndrome over a long period of time. A complete cure can usually be achieved when the exact causes of the syndrome have been identified.

If the burning mouth syndrome occurs due to certain foods, the syndrome can be completely alleviated if the person concerned does not eat them. Even in the case of deficiency symptoms, the symptoms can usually be treated well by the patient taking supplements. The same applies if the disease is caused by diabetes , although the symptoms can also be alleviated by treating the diabetes. A complete alleviation of the pain often only occurs over a longer period of time, so that the patients are dependent on a long therapy.

In the case of food intolerance , the person concerned has to do without the food for the rest of their life and cannot eat it. Since the burning mouth syndrome also leads to problems with the teeth, these must also be treated. Without treatment, this syndrome does not heal itself and in many cases the symptoms worsen.


There are no specific measures to prevent Burning Mouth Syndrome. Good oral hygiene with mild agents is particularly important. Eating a healthy diet and avoiding spicy and acidic foods, alcohol and nicotine can provide relief from a burning tongue.

Regular check-ups and dental examinations enable irritation and illnesses to be diagnosed and treated at an early stage before the burning pain develops. Relaxation exercises to reduce stress and psychological help for anxiety disorders and depression can prevent the development of burning mouth syndrome or relieve the pain.


Symptomatic treatment approaches and medical follow-up care can improve the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome. Even if the causes of the burning sensation on the tongue and oral mucosa cannot always be clarified, the symptoms can usually be treated successfully. Sometimes multiple triggers come together. This makes follow-up difficult.

Burning Mouth Syndrome usually has no psychological causes. Psychological aftercare can still be useful if the burning mouth syndrome affects the quality of life. The glossalgia can be a burden. It can affect the taste experience.

For many of those affected, eating is made more difficult by disturbing sensations such as tingling or painful stings. Triggers such as poorly maintained dentures, intolerance to dental materials or allergies must be eliminated as far as possible. Aftercare is about restoring the quality of life of those affected.

The doctors treating you try to make it easier for those affected to deal with the symptoms that occur. If Candida albicans is present, nutritional counseling can be part of the follow-up measures. Vitamin deficiencies, diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux syndrome or other underlying diseases can also be treated as triggers for burning mouth syndrome.

You can do that yourself

The personal scope for action in everyday life is comparatively small with the Burning Mouth Syndrome. Small everyday tips and tricks, however, make life more bearable.

The first priority here is a positive attitude towards life. Despite illness, this can be practiced again and again every day and quickly becomes second nature. Cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques support this.

In addition, intensive oral care is the basis for a good feeling in the mouth. Mild toothpaste and mouthwash can help. Oral mucosa therapeutics sometimes have anti-inflammatory or mucous membrane numbing solutions that help relieve the symptoms. However, these should be alcohol-free, otherwise they will increase the burning sensation. Furthermore, some medicinal plants such as mallow leaves , linden blossoms or marshmallow roots also contain irritation-relieving mucilage. As a tea, tincture (also alcohol-free) or gel for application, they are a valuable support.

Dry mouth is counteracted with plenty of water and tea. It should be at least two liters a day. Sucking on ice cubes or corresponding lozenges has also turned out to be a valuable tip. As far as nutrition is concerned, it is better to avoid strongly seasoned or acidic foods (including vinegar ). Nuts also irritate the mucous membranes due to their oxalic acid content. Avoiding alcohol and nicotine (irritants) is also indicated. Overall, the entire physical condition improves with regular exercise and sufficient sleep.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.