Burning Mouth Syndrome

Symptoms, Doctors, Treatments, Research & More

Condition 101

What is the definition of Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome is characterized by long-lasting burning sensations of the mouth. The pain may affect the tongue, gums, lips, palate, throat, or the entire mouth. Burning mouth syndrome may be primary or secondary. Experts believe that the primary form may be caused by damage to the nerves that control pain and taste. The secondary form is caused by an underlying medical condition. In many cases, the underlying cause in unknown. Treatment depends on the symptoms present and aims to control them.

What are the alternative names for Burning Mouth Syndrome?

  • BMS
  • Stomatodynia
  • Burning mouth disorder

What are the causes for Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome can be primary or secondary. Some research suggests that primary burning mouth syndrome is caused by damage to the nerves that control pain and taste. Secondary burning mouth syndrome is usually caused by an underlying medical condition. Some of the problems that have been linked to secondary burning mouth syndrome include: 
  • Dry mouth, which can be caused by various medications or underlying health problems
  • Other oral conditions, such as fungal infections, oral lichen planus, or geographic tongue
  • Nutritional deficiencies, such as lack of iron, zinc, folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, and cobalamin
  • Dentures, especially if they don't fit well and irritate the mouth
  • Allergies or reactions to foods, additives, dyes or dental work
  • Certain medications, in particular those for high blood pressure
  • Oral habits such as tooth grinding, tongue thrusting, or biting of the tongue 
  • Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism
  • Excessive mouth irritation which may result from over-brushing, use of abrasive toothpastes, over use of mouthwashes, or drinking too many acidic drinks
  • Psychological factors, such as anxiety, depression, or stress

For many people, the underlying cause of burning mouth syndrome can not be identified.

What are the symptoms for Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Symptoms of burning mouth syndrome may include severe burning or tingling in the mouth which may persist or come and go over the course of months to years. The tongue is usually affected, but the pain may also be in the lips, gums, palate, throat or whole mouth. The burning sensation may be absent in the morning and increase over the course of the day, start first thing in the morning and last all day, or come and go all day long. For many, the pain is reduced when eating or drinking.  Other symptoms may include a sensation of dry mouth with increased thirst, a bitter or metallic taste, or loss of taste.

What are the current treatments for Burning Mouth Syndrome?

If the underlying cause of burning mouth syndrome is determined, treatment is aimed at the triggering factor(s). If no cause can be found, treatment can be challenging. The following are potential therapies for burning mouth syndrome; we strongly recommend that you work with your health care provider in determining which therapy is right for you.  

  • A lozenge-type form of the anticonvulsant medication clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Oral thrush medications
  • Medications that block nerve pan
  • Certain antidepressants
  • B vitamins
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Special oral rinses or mouth washes
  • Saliva replacement products 
  • Capsaicin

In addition to these medications, the following measures may be helpful in reducing symptoms of burning mouth syndrome:

  • Sip water frequently
  • Suck on ice chips
  • Chew sugarless gum
  • Avoid irritating substances like tobacco, hot or spicy foods, alcoholic beverages, mouthwashes that contain alcohol, and products high in acid, like citrus fruits and juices, as well as cinnamon or mint.

Top Global Doctors

Michele D. Mignogna
Naples, 72, IT
Heli Forssell
Turku, 02, FI
Andrea Sardella
Milan, 25, IT
Pia Jornet-Lopez
Murcia, MU, ES
Daniela Adamo
Naples, 72, IT

Latest Research

Latest Advance
  • Condition: Mood Disorders Associated With Burning Mouth Syndrome
  • Journal: Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.)
  • Treatment Used: Vortioxetine
  • Number of Patients: 0
  • Published —
The purpose of the study was to evaluate the efficacy of a new multimodal antidepressant, vortioxetine, in the management of burning mouth syndrome.
Latest Advance
  • Condition: Neuropathic Orofacial Pain
  • Journal: Journal of oral & facial pain and headache
  • Treatment Used: low-level laser therapy
  • Number of Patients: 0
  • Published —
The purpose of the study was to evaluate the efficacy of low-level laser therapy for the therapeutic management of neuropathic orofacial pain.

Clinical Trials

Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Study Type: Drug
  • Participants: 290
  • Start Date: November 20, 2020
Head Yuanshi Dian Therapy in the Treatment of Burning Mouth Syndrome: a Randomized Controlled Trial