Burning Tongue

Burning tongue is a painful syndrome also referred to as Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS), Stomatodynia or Glossodynia. Burning tongue can affect people of all ages but is more prevalent in menopausal women and among the middle-aged. A burning tongue can cause a painful feeling in the mouth, lips, along the gums and roof of the mouth, and the tongue. The pain and burning can be likened to the feeling you get when scalding your mouth by eating or drinking anything too hot. This unpleasant feeling occurs even if you haven’t eaten or drunk a thing and in fact worsens if you consume anything. The only thing that can bring some temporary relief is drinking cold water. This burning sensation is not caused by any visible cuts or sores and can therefore leave most of those afflicted rather confused. That said, burning tongue syndrome is a surprisingly common complaint and more worryingly, burning tongue syndrome can last for months or even years with the uncomfortable sensations peaking at different points of time in a day.

Symptoms of Burning Tongue

While the symptoms are often rather obvious, you could also experience any of these symptoms associated with the condition:

  • Burning sensation in the mouth, lips, gums, palate, and tongue
  • Pain that gets worse as the day progresses
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore mouth
  • Excessive thirst
  • Loss of taste and appetite
  • Numbness of the tongue and mouth
  • A tingling feeling on the tip of the tongue
  • Bitter or metallic taste in the mouth
  • Tongue that looks normal
  • No sores or mouth ulcers despite the pain and burning
  • Burning tongue can cause bad breath and tooth decay

Burning tongue syndrome can cause other side effects and complications such as anxiety, irritability, depression, difficulty in eating and sleeping, problems with social interactions and personal relationships.

If you think you may be suffering from burning tongue syndrome, visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis at the earliest. While there is no simple test that can determine whether you have the condition or not, your doctor will order a number of tests that will help rule out different possible causes of the ailment. These tests include blood tests, oral cultures, allergy tests, psychological tests, salivary measurement tests, and GERD tests. He may even request and MRI or a CT scan to be carried out in order to determine if any underlying health condition is causing the burning tongue syndrome.

Cause of Burning Tongue

The exact causes of burning tongue syndrome continue to baffle even the experts. There are several theories that speculate on the possible causes of the condition, but no conclusive evidence exists to support any one factor or cause. Some causes of burning tongue may be:

  • Yeast infections in the mouth such as oral candida
  • Thyroid problems
  • Hormonal imbalances or deficiencies
  • Menopause
  • Tooth decay, gum disease and bad dental habits
  • Chronic grinding of teeth (Bruxism)
  • Oral cancer
  • Tongue infections
  • Foods that are spicy or too oily
  • Food allergies
  • Allergies to certain oral health care products such as toothpastes and mouthwashes
  • Certain medications such as diabetes and hypertension medication and diuretics
  • Cancer treatments
  • GERD or acid reflux
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammatory medical ailments such as Sjogren's Syndrome
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Badly fitting dentures or bridges
  • Smoking
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Other nutritional deficiencies such as folic acid deficiency, niacin deficiency, and iron deficiency
  • Dry mouth syndrome
  • Disorders of the endocrine system
  • Disorders of the nervous system
  • Psychological conditions such as depression
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Genetics where one is born with an abnormality in the structure of the tongue

The appropriate treatment for burning tongue syndrome would therefore depend on what the underlying cause is. For example, if tooth decay is causing burning tongue, a dentist would need to tackle the tooth cavity and remedy the situation in order to cure the burning tongue. Unfortunately in many cases, the exact cause of burning tongue is never determined making it very difficult to treat the condition. In such cases, relying on home remedies to lessen the pain and discomfort is the next best option as a treatment for burning tongue syndrome.

Several studies suggest that people with traumatic experiences in their early life are a lot more susceptible to burning tongue syndrome.

Remedies for Burning Tongue

According to some studies, psychotherapy may be an important alternative to conventional treatment, because of the psychological implications of the disorder, in a significant number of cases. There are also a number of natural remedies for burning tongue and lips that can offer relief from the pain and discomfort. These include:

  • Sucking on ice or sipping on cold water to reduce the burning and pain
  • Chewing on sugar-free gum to increase the production of saliva and prevent dry mouth syndrome
  • Get your dentist to take care of any cavities, gum disease, or ill-fitting dentures
  • Speak to your doctor about changing any medications that may be causing burning tongue syndrome
  • Regular exercise such as yoga and meditation can lessen stress and anxiety that can aggravate the symptoms of burning tongue syndrome
  • Using baking soda instead of commercially available toothpaste in case certain ingredients in your regular toothpaste is causing the symptoms of burning tongue
  • Boil mint leaves in water. Cool and strain and place the infusion in the fridge. Drink this twice a day to reduce burning and irritation in the mouth
  • You can also use this mint infusion as a homemade mouthwash to prevent inflammation. While mint has therapeutic properties that can help treat burning tongue, never chew raw mint leaves as this can cause more damage than good
  • Margosa leaves contain anti-bacterial compounds that can prevent bad breath and other dental problems. You can brush your teeth with a paste made of crushed margosa leaves
  • Make a paste of onion and a few pods of garlic. Add this paste to water and use this mixture to gargle daily. This helps reduce the burning sensation in the mouth and prevents bad breath
  • Lavender oil applied to the mouth can offer quick relief in cases of burning tongue
  • In much the same way, applying a layer of glycerin over the tongue can reduce the pain and burning as well
  • Other burning tongue remedies include avoiding smoking and alcohol, and cutting down on spicy and oily foods
  • Alternative remedies such as homeopathy, acupressure and herbal treatments can help treat burning tongue syndrome as well

Diet for Burning Tongue

The most effective way to treat burning tongue syndrome is to make long-term changes in your lifestyle and eating habits such as:

  • Drinking more water to prevent dry mouth, dehydration, and increase the production of saliva in order to reduce the severity of some of the symptoms of burning tongue syndrome
  • Include more boiled and bland vegetables in your diet. Boiled foods help reduce inflammation and irritation
  • Foods that are high in spices and contain capsacin such as salsa, peppers, and hot sauces should be avoided at all costs
  • Avoid foods high in acidic content such as citrus fruits. However, do not decrease your intake of fresh fruits as this can help improve your dental health
  • Foods that cool the mouth such as fresh fruit and vegetable juices are helpful in relieving the unpleasant symptoms of burning tongue syndrome
  • Since thyroid problems and illnesses such as diabetes can give rise to burning tongue syndrome it is important to treat the conditions themselves. Start off with following the requisite diets as prescribed by your doctor in order to ensure that the disease is controlled and does not cause further complications
  • Eat foods high in vitamin B12 and iron. These include foods such as liver, chicken dairy products, and egg yolks. Iron-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli are also essential for preventing burning tongue syndrome
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and chocolates as they can acts as triggers for burning tongue symptoms. Cinnamon and mint should also be struck off the diet list as they can aggravate symptoms of burning tongue syndrome

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.


  1. Philip-John Lamey, Ruth Freeman, Sally-Anne Eddie, Caroline Pankhurst, Terry Rees, Vulnerability and presenting symptoms in burning mouth syndrome, Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology, and Endodontology, Volume 99, Issue 1, January 2005, Pages 48-54, ISSN 1079-2104, 10.1016/j.tripleo.2004.01.021.
  2. Ivan Dieb Miziara, Bernardo Cunha Araújo Filho, Rigoberto Oliveira, Rosa Maria Rodrigues dos Santos, Group psychotherapy: An additional approach to burning mouth syndrome, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Volume 67, Issue 5, November 2009, Pages 443-448, ISSN 0022-3999, 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2009.01.013.

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9 Burning Tongue remedies suggested by our users
Vitamin B Complex Helped ME!!
suggested by Chris on Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Well I was inflicted with this painful and frustrating problem. I went out and pruchased Vitamin B Complex Stress. It took about 4 days and eventually my burning tongue became a sore tongue. Then 5 days later my tongue only hurts a little and greatfully I can now report I am Pain free....I had these burning tongue syndrom for 6 weeks. I felt like killing myself, but now feel much better. Sugar free gum is a short quick fix, BUT Viamin B Complex Stress was the answer. Good Luck I do not wish this upon my worst enemy!

sore/burn mouth/tongue
suggested by Trasi on Wednesday, August 15, 2007

colgate has a mouthwash called Peroxyl. It can be used upto 4 times a day. Works like magic.

suggested by Rose on Monday, August 6, 2007

I had burning tongue which I think occured partially due to stress & dental problems. I took folic acid (as recommended by dentist) & later started taking multi-vitamin & stress B and it went away.

Vitamin B12 helped me
suggested by Emmy on Tuesday, May 22, 2007

taking Vitamin B12 helped relieve my symtoms. I realized that the burning was more as I got closer to my cycle. This is only the 3rd Month I've had it and I don't know how I can live with this for years without finding a permanent solution.

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