Types of Burning Mouth Syndrome
There are two types of BMS, primary and secondary.
- Primary BMS presents with no underlying medical conditions or apparent cause. Because primary BMS is often diagnosed in the absence of any clinical signs, it's characterized as "idiopathic" and can often be frustrating for the patient.
- Secondary BMS is related to an underlying disease such as diabetes. It will be helpful for your dentist/physician to conduct a diagnosis and differentiate this condition from dry mouth (also known as xerostomia).
The following are some of the minor causes of burning tongue syndrome:
1) Dry Mouth
When your mouth does not have enough saliva, you get that dry, uncomfortable, sticky feeling known as dry mouth (xerostomia). This is an oral condition caused by different factors, such as diseases that affect the salivary glands, over 600 medications, or natural hormonal changes. Chronic dry mouth can contribute to burning, tingling or sensation, or soreness in your mouth.
2) Nutritional Deficiencies
Nutritional deficiencies may also contribute to your symptoms. Deficiencies of vitamin B and minerals, such as iron and zinc, can contribute to a burnt tongue sensation. Ensure you're eating a well-balanced diet, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy, nuts, seeds, and healthy proteins. Talk to your doctor before taking nutritional supplements.
3) Mouth Irritation
Acidic beverages such as soft drinks, hot spicy foods, overzealous brushing of your tongue, and overusing your mouthwash can irritate your mouth. If you're experiencing a burning sensation in your mouth, try to drink fewer irritating beverages. Talk to your dental professional about your oral hygiene habits to see if they could be the culprit of the irritation.
4) Medication Side Effects
One of the possible causes of the burning tongue is the use of certain medications associated with dry mouth and burning tongue syndrome. These medications include anti-depressants and ACE inhibitors. Interestingly, antidepressants are sometimes used to treat BMS, so check with your medical professional before making any changes to your medication regimen. Some drugs may cause soreness and dryness of the mouth. Inform your dental or medical professional if you're experiencing side effects due to medications.
5) Oral Conditions
The burning tongue feeling can also be caused by another oral health condition, known as candidiasis or thrush (a fungal infection in the mouth) or geographic tongue (a condition where the surface of your tongue develops a map-like appearance).
Geographic tongue is not associated with any long-term health conditions but can sometimes become inflamed and painful. Your dental professional can diagnose and provide options to reduce the pain and discomfort.
Other Possible Causes for Burning Mouth/Tongue
While some of the possible causes of burning tongue are easier to identify, others are hard to pinpoint. If your dental professional determines that no apparent conditions are causing burning mouth symptoms, discuss your medical history with your physician.
A comprehensive medical examination will review whether any underlying diseases may be contributing to your symptoms. This includes diabetes, thyroid disease, Sjogren's syndrome, or other conditions associated with menopause, allergies, or acid reflux.
Ill-fitting dentures can irritate mouth tissues. If you feel the burning sensation is stemming from your gums or places where your dentures come in contact with your cheeks or roof of your mouth, you can ask your prosthodontist to review your fit to see if that might be the issue.
Did your burned gum feeling start soon after switching to a new toothpaste or mouthwash? A mouthwash containing alcohol, for example, can dry the inside of your mouth and cause a burning sensation in the gum tissue, tongue, or other areas. It's also possible to develop an allergic reaction to an ingredient in the toothpaste or other oral product.
If you suspect your toothpaste or mouthwash is the culprit, try switching back to your previous product and see if the sensation goes away. When in doubt, ask your dental professional for advice.