Burning tongue syndrome is a painful and often frustrating condition — some people compare it to having burned their mouth with hot coffee. The burning sensation often affects the tongue, the roof of the mouth, the gums, the inside of the cheeks, and the back of the mouth or throat. This condition can also be known as "burning mouth syndrome," "scalded mouth syndrome," "glossodynia" and "stomatodynia."
Once burning tongue syndrome begins, it can persist for many years. People who have it might wake up with no pain only to find that the burning sensation grows progressively worse throughout the day. They might have difficulty falling asleep, and this discomfort and restlessness can cause mood changes, irritability, anxiety and depression.
But don't fret; you and you dentist/doctor can work together to discover the cause and find solutions. The following are some of the minor causes of burning tongue syndrome:
When your mouth does not have enough saliva to stay wet, you get that dry, sticky feeling known as dry mouth. This is another oral condition that can be caused by different factors, such as diseases that affect the salivary glands, some medications or natural hormonal changes. Chronic dryness can contribute to a burning sensation or soreness in your mouth. Your dentist might recommend keeping your mouth moist by drinking more water and sucking on sugarless candy or chewing sugarless gum. Using a saliva substitute will also help combat the dryness and keep your mouth healthy.
A deficiency of some key nutrients can also be a source of the burning sensation in your mouth. Deficiencies of vitamin B and minerals, such as iron and zinc, can contribute to a burnt tongue sensation. Make sure you're eating a well-balanced diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy, nuts, seeds and healthy proteins. Talk to your doctor before taking nutritional supplements.
Drinking too many irritating beverages, over-brushing your tongue, and overusing your mouthwash can irritate your mouth. If you're experiencing a burning sensation in your mouth, try to drink fewer acidic drinks. Talk to your dentist about your oral hygiene habits to see if they could be causing some of the irritation.
Medication Side Effects
One of the possible burning tongue causes is the use of certain medications, such as antidepressants. Some drugs may cause soreness and dryness of the mouth. Inform your doctor if you're experiencing side effects due to medications you are taking.
The burnt tongue feeling can also be caused by another oral health condition, such as oral thrush (a fungal infection in the mouth) or geographic tongue (a condition where the surface of your tongue develops a map-like appearance). Your dentist can diagnose and provide options to reduce the pain and discomfort.
Other Possible Causes
While some of the possible causes of burning tongue are easier to identify, others are hard to pinpoint. If your dentist determines that no oral conditions are causing burning mouth symptoms, discuss disorders, such as diabetes, thyroid conditions, Sjögren’s syndrome, menopause, allergies, acid reflux and psychological causes, with your doctor.
How to Soothe Burning Tongue Syndrome
Simple solutions to ease burning tongue symptoms can include the avoidance of mouthwash with alcohol, chewing gum, tobacco and acidic liquids, including certain fruit juices, soft drinks and coffee, for two weeks to see if there is any improvement.
The most important thing is not to ignore your symptoms. Your dentist and other healthcare providers are there to help identify what's going on and find solutions so you don't have to live in discomfort!