Have you ever experienced a seemingly random burning sensation in your mouth, without knowing what it was or what caused it? Even if there’s no obvious cause, I’m here to tell you that this is a real phenomenon called burning mouth syndrome. And it’s more common than you might think…
Sometimes your body presents odd symptoms to communicate to you that something just isn’t right. It can be hard to determine what’s causing these symptoms, especially if you haven’t done anything out of the ordinary.
A burning sensation in your mouth is more than just mild tingling. And it might not always be a result of eating spicy foods, although that certainly doesn’t help the situation. It’s painful and uncomfortable, and it can keep you from living a normal life.
What Is Burning Mouth Syndrome?
It can be referred to as either burning mouth or tongue syndrome, depending on where the pain is situated (but we’ll just call it burning mouth syndrome from this point on). This is when you feel a sudden or gradual fiery, burning feeling in your mouth. It can be localized to one area, such as the tongue, or it can move to different parts of the mouth sporadically.
Although both men and women are at risk, postmenopausal women over the age of 50 are most likely to develop this condition.
Here’s where things get tricky, though.
There’s no known cure or guaranteed treatment options for burning mouth syndrome, because it’s not actually a disease or health problem. It’s a symptom of a wide array of underlying health issues.
The reason postmenopausal women are at the highest risk of developing it is due to drastic hormonal changes and imbalances in their bodies during and after menopause. Specifically, lower estrogen levels can negatively affect the taste buds in the mouth. And reduce the body’s natural saliva production, which leads to dry mouth.
Burning Mouth Syndrome Types, Causes, and Symptoms
There are two types of burning mouth syndrome: primary (idiopathic glossopyrosis) and secondary. Primary burning mouth syndrome doesn’t have any known causes. Therefore, it’s a lot harder to diagnose and treat. Secondary burning mouth syndrome has a whole host of possible causes, some of which are more serious than others.
- Dry mouth as a side effect of certain medications
- Improperly fitted dentures
- Oral yeast infection
- B vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Allergic reactions
- Damaged nerves in the mouth
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Diabetes, hormonal imbalances
- Overzealous dental care
Symptoms of burning mouth syndrome—other than the burning, of course—include:
- Sour, metallic taste in your mouth
- Sporadic burning sensation throughout the day
- Feeling like your mouth is intensely dry despite sufficient water consumption and normal saliva production
- Gradually increasing burning sensation throughout the day
Diagnosis and Natural Remedies
Even though there aren’t any specific treatment options for the syndrome, the best way to relieve the pain is to figure out what’s causing it. If you experience any of the abovementioned symptoms, talk to your dentist or doctor right away.
They’ll examine your mouth and run a series of tests to try to rule out as many diseases as possible. The sooner the underlying cause is diagnosed, the sooner you can explore appropriate treatment options.
In the meantime, there are some more natural ways to ease the burn. Quit smoking if you haven’t already and avoid carbonated and citrus beverages, alcohol-based mouthwashes, and acidic and spicy foods.
“Tongue Burn,” Healthline; http://www.healthline.com/health/tongue-burn#overview1, last accessed June 14, 2017.
“Burning Mouth Syndrome,” Mayo Clinic; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/burning-mouth-syndrome/symptoms-causes/dxc-20179960, last accessed June 14, 2017.
Stone, B., “5 Simple Burning Tongue Causes and Solutions,” Colgate Oral Care Center; http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/mouth-sores-and-infections/article/five-simple-burning-tongue-causes-and-solutions-1013, last accessed June 14, 2017.
Pleis, D., “Burning Mouth Syndrome: Putting Out the Fire,” Colgate Oral Care Center; http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/mouth-sores-and-infections/article/burning-mouth-syndrome-putting-out-the-fire-0214, last accessed June 14, 2017.
Wedro, B., “Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS),” MedicineNet.com; http://www.medicinenet.com/burning_mouth_syndrome/article.htm, last accessed June 14, 2017.