The People's Perspective on Medicine

Burning Mouth Syndrome Can Make Life Miserable

Treating the pain of burning mouth syndrome may require ruling out drug reactions and nutritional deficiencies.

Some very painful conditions can be difficult to treat. The diagnosis of burning mouth syndrome implies that any obvious causes of pain have been ruled out. Finding a way to cool the burning sensation is a significant challenge.

Q. I have burning mouth syndrome. For at least two months, my mouth and tongue have been burning as if I had scalded them.

I’ve seen my dentist, dermatologist and primary care physician. They can find no disease. I tolerate only tepid drinks and bland foods; I brush my teeth with baking soda, as toothpaste burns.

I’ve tried rinsing my mouth with coconut oil, salt water, peroxide rinse and a mouth rinse for dry mouth. Nothing helps. Do you have any remedies?

A. The cause of burning mouth syndrome is frequently a mystery, making it exceptionally hard to treat. In this condition, there are no obvious diseases apparent in the mouth, although the pain can be excruciating. Some experts suspect that it is caused by a disorder of the nerves that serve the mouth, tongue and lips.

Medications That May Be Responsible

Some medications may trigger this problem; reactions to blood pressure pills such as enalapril, eprosartan or lisinopril have been reported in the medical literature.

Deficiencies That Could Lead to Burning Mouth

A vitamin B deficiency (B1, B2, B 6, B12 or folic acid) may also be responsible. Low iron or zinc levels might contribute.

Ask for a blood test to check your status. If any of these nutrients is low, a supplement might help.

An objective review of research found that alpha-lipoic acid may also be helpful (Cochrane Library, Jan. 24, 2005). This natural product is sometimes used to ease the pain of diabetic neuropathy, so it makes some sense that it might help with other forms of nerve-related pain.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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Made myself this tumeric milk, and within seconds my tongue burned like crazy! Perhaps it was just too strong. (?) Rinsing with salt water helped immensely. And making sure NO disolvable vitamins , are used whatsoever!.

I have used baking soda (bicarbonate soda) to rinse my mouth (1tbs in a glass of water) every time the symptoms appear (but no more than 3 times a day) and it made a huge difference almost immediately. I also found that cutting out sugar completely helped a great deal. Now I can go on without the baking soda if I stay off the sugar. If I stray, the burning comes back and I have to hit the baking soda again. I also avoid white carbs (pasta, bread, rice) but not sure whether that’s helped or not. I started having BMS when my blood sugar became high. I was eating well but too much fruit. There seems to be a definite correlation in my case, so I recommend giving it a try.

In reply to Nano:
I have tried everything myself for this burning mouth syndrome. I have had it for year and gone to an ENT, a regular doctor, and a dentist. I have tried most of the suggestions that the commenter SPELICAN has given. Now I am swishing with coconut oil for 20 minutes. Spit out into the garbage then rinse twice and use Anbesol. I’ve been doing this for four days, and the pain is almost all gone but if it comes back I will try the turmeric supplements and B vitamins and maybe try swishing with salt water. I am also using a mouthguard because the dentist thinks I am either clenching or grinding my teeth.

I’ve had burning mouth and tongue for a year now. It’s hell. I am finally making progress, the pain beginning to back off with the strategies I’ve listed below. As you can see I’ve been trying hard, and you can beat it too!:
1. SWIMMING (for stress relief).
2. ACUPUNCTURE (to stimulate saliva and relieve pain)
3. TURMERIC supplement — remarkable!
4. B VITAMINS, everyday, for months. Finally working.
5. IRON
6. “TACROLIMUS” ointment — prescribed by oral surgeon
7. RAW COCONUT OIL mouth swishing…. nice
8. R-LIPOIC ACID (just starting this), may try ALPHA-LIPOIC
9. HERBAL LOZENGES – sugar-free mint-free
10. SLS-FREE GEL TOOTHPASTE, Jason brand
11. MEDITATION… stress relief & sleep assistance
12. CUT DOWN ON COFFEE & WINE, acid foods

Rarely, systolic dysfunction develops late in the disease.

My BMS started 10 yrs ago when I was grinding my teeth too much that lead to dry mouth, then dry mouth to my burning mouth it’s a combination of a lot of different foods that affect everyone differently you have to find out what food substances you eat or drink that sets yours off individually.

Also stress is number one factor in burning mouth syndrome. I take large amounts of vitamin B12 sublingual, B complex, Alpha lipoic , Lysine etc. eat a natural diet as I can. Cut down on alcohol coffee and especially sugar in any form except natural raw honey. Research Xylitol sweet brand. (It’s from a fir tree ) as a sugar substitute. It helps dry mouth and coats the teeth to help cut down bacteria in mouth. You can also bake with it.

Also some say gluten may trigger burning mouth – control your stress! No Drs or dentist can help me. Hope that helps. I have moderate TMJ. It may be a trigeminal nerve condition neuropathy.

Burning mouth syndrome (my diagnosis) happened suddenly. I thought I was getting a weird feeling in my mouth and dry mouth from eating seedless grapes (organic and non-organic) but when I quit eating grapes the feeling didn’t go away… so I thought maybe it was nuts… but stopping nuts didn’t help. My weird feeling (like eating an unripe banana sort of) changed to a burning sensation on my tongue and inside my lip. I have been drinking and swishing coconut oil now and then and thought maybe that was the reason it felt burned (but is not visibly burned)… I started taking turmeric supplements… can’t remember when exactly… but I think I’ll stop them for awhile. So far my case is annoying and baffling… more than painful…. very very weird.

truck is not totally in useFoot(Foot brake pedal your pedal): Once compressed, Air is actually made available this water

i have had this bms for 6 weeks its driving me nuts please help x

i have had this for ten days now i give anybody alot of credit if you can find a way to live with it i am fading fast trying to stay positive i was put on pantoprazole a month ago for acid reflux does anyone know if this could trigger my burning tounge plus alot of stress too i really dont know what to do started chewing gum but really dont like it tho it does help to get through work have alot of anxiety how can i calm that down not a happy person like before this started what works to calm it just a little relief would be a god send

Try alpha lipoic, I had bms for months but this finally stopped it. You will get heartburn so make sure you take an antacid. I finally am through with bms!!

Good luck
Maria

Hello Cheryl,

I am reading my story. My problem started after being on omeprazole for 8 weeks. I have been with the BMS for almost 8 weeks now without any relief.

I am planning to visit a doctor to see if i can get ny help…

Much to my surprise oil pulling has helped control the symptoms of mt burning tongue.

Nothing helping me. I started having this problem after 3 back surgery. How can I use Aloe Vera?

I have suffered with BMS for about ten years. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Has anyone else noticed that taking medications makes it worse? If I take Tylenol or Advil, my BM flares up terribly. I’ve been trying alpha lipoic acid for the last month and thought I was making some progress,but unfortunately, I recently got a sinus infection and ended up taking some Tylenol to help with the sinus headaches, and now my BM is through the roof again! Has anyone else noticed this?? Ps. It can be other meds too …. I noticed this also happened when I’ve taken gravel/Dramamine …… I hope I’m not the only one going through this!

Hi M, I have had this for 4 years. Tried so many different things, spent a fortune all to no avail. Please try aloe Vera barbadensis. It’s a medicinal plant. Google it – there’s loads of info. I’ve been eating this for about 5 weeks now and the improvement is remarkable, I’m not cured yet but I’m 80% there. Please give it a go. Good luck.

Developed extremely painful burning mouth syndrome with altered taste sensation and a numb tongue for unknown reasons several years ago. I went to the dentist, primary care M.D., ENT and finally a neurologist. All blood work, including that looking for some very serious conditions, was normal as was my brain scan. Despite “normal” B12 levels in my blood and no indications for pernicious anemia, the neurologist prescribed very high doses of B12 via nasal spray as she didn’t know what else to try and B12 is non-toxic so high doses are safe. In a few weeks the burning and numbness reduced and I have close to normal taste sensation now. I have cut back on the B12 from four doses a week to one dose as needed when the burning and tingling on my tongue starts which is about every 10-days. Although the B12 nasal spray is expensive, it has made a huge difference in my quality of life and, compared to the treatment for serious diseases the doctors first considered, it is cheap, easy to administer and effective. We still do not know what causes this condition but the theory is that for some reason my body needs more than the “normal” B12 levels.

Christina,
Can you tell me more about the b12 nasal spray? There are different kinds of b12 and what is the dosage you use? I’m wondering if my Dr. would know what to order. Any additional info you can share would be very helpful.

Thsnks,
RK

After cataract surgery 3 yrs ago, dry mouth started up. I don’t have Sjogren’s Syndrome. I do take a # of meds, Pilocarpine (Salagen) for dry mouth, being one. Spiriva, or any of the COPD drugs and Trazodone make it worse. Dental maintenance and observation of swelling , irritations and raw spots on gum visits every 4 months. I’ve seen a dental pathologist who suggested olive oil swishes 3-4x day after drinking a full glass of water. Coconut oil helps some.
This is the 1st mention I’ve seen of Burning mouth syndrome that describes my mouth perfectly. Quality of life is not as good since I can’t enjoy most food and drink. Milkshakes have been a staple. I’ve used TheraGum, Biotene products (mouthwash stings) and OraMoist, a time released dry mouth patch that helps for nighttime.
Suggestions here on Vit. B and zinc I’ll followup on. Thanks to all who responded and to the Graedons.

I had the same problem after taking a statin (Simvastatin) for almost one month. Didn’t realize that dry mouth is a known side effect of Simvastatin until after experiencing the side effect.

I wrote to you a few months ago about this issue. My Doctor prescribed Losarten I guess for kidney blood pressure. My mouth became painful and had some lesions. I was sent to an oral surgeon and even had to endure a biopsy. I stopped the Losarten and the pain disappeared. Why don’t physicians or pharmacists know that this happens? It would have been a lot easier.

I have burning mouth or burning tongue syndrome. I found that taking a variety of vitamins helps: B complex, zinc (usually in a calcium formulation with D and magnesium), E, multi, and C. Using sensitive toothpaste helps–I used to use a Tom’s variety that was gentle; now I use a Crest version. I find that I can skip one or two days of the vitamins, but more than that encourages the pain to return. I like spicy food, so being able to eat spicy food without my tongue rebelling is important to me. I feel as if fruits can set it off–pineapple perhaps, and also some forms of melon. When I was doing research, it seems to me that it was also linked to some forms of thyroid disorder.

Wow…..reading your story could have be me 10 yrs ago! I suffered on and off for months. Dentist had no idea. Went to my ENT for sinus infection and mentioned it to him and was told that it could signal a B vitamin deficiency. I now take a B complex at least 5 times a week and when I forget to take it for a couple weeks…..the burning is back!

I get burning mouth syndrome as my hormones change……..most especially menopause!

I had burning mouth problems when I started on Ramipril. Stopped the drug and it went away. I wonder if there are any foods that act athe same way ACE inhibitors do and might trigger that response.

I will offer a few things that I am sensitive to: certain nuts such as cashews, whiteners in toothpaste, denture cleansers, tooth fillings, nasal sprays (ends up in the mouth), even lipbalm. We are complicated beings. Good Luck.

I had this problem along with a horrible after taste until I was finally referred to a specialist many years ago. He diagnosed a problem with my saliva not absorbing zinc and put me on zinc picolinate, which I have been taking for about fifteen years. I’ve tried going without it and the symptoms recur, so I continue to take it. You will not find this at a local pharmacy, but I’ve found reasonable prices at Swanson Health and Puritans Pride. I hope this helps, because I know how miserable life is with these issues.

Kathy can you tell me the amount of zinc picolinate that you take. My BMS is going on one year now and I’ve tried so many things, seen so many doctors and everyone is at a loss as to why this is occuring much less what to do about it.
Thank you for the information.

Can you tell me the dosage of the zinc and what brand? Thanks!

I have been going through a similar problem. Fam dr 2 times, ENT, dentist. Nothing.
finally I found an ENT that diagnosed it as geographic tongue (glossititis). He told me IF it was not better in 2 weeks to call and get a cat scan of tongue. The redness, swelling, pain in the back side of tongue. The other theory dr said was stone in salivary gland. I was told to swish hydrogen peroxide around in my mouth and then do a salt in warm water swish for 2 x day for 2 weeks. It helps to some degree.. but occ it swells more. Was told to try to figure out what the problem was by myself.. .. as in food..
also I have dry mouth which 2 dentist had ignored.. and now my teeth separate.

NOTE: I was told by dentist months ago that I had sloughing of the mouth normally caused by toothpaste allergy.. so I stopped using baking soda toothpaste. I was told that cleared up by dentist. I am still on my journey to figure this out. Suggest you keep going from ENT to ENT until you find one that will diagnose and treat you with the dignity you deserve.

After all kinds of doctors visits, I tried something the late nutritionist, Adele Davis recommended: a good quality Vitamin B complex ( like Shaklee ), containing ALL the B
vitamins. Taking this has helped me within one week. I also use Biotene mouth gel at bedtime so that dry mouth will not wake me up
I watch the wine I drink, and only can drink a mild pinot grigio and occasionally a mild
pinot noir. Alcohol does deplete Vitamin B’s and this vitamin is needed for the nerves,
including those to the mouth.

I’ve had severely burning lips and dry mouth due to Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease. Have you seen a rheumatologist to check this out?

I used to have a burning tongue and it was a great source of pain and irritation. I asked my doctors and my dentist for help. No one had any suggestions. Finally, being a law librarian, I contacted a friend who was a medical librarian and asked her to do a Medline search for me on this subject. She came up with some studies that I showed my primary care physician suggesting that low estrogen could be the problem. She increased my Premarin to a higher dose and it helped tremendously. A few years later after some information about the dangers of estrogen became known, I decided to stop taking it. With my doctor’s guidance, I tapered off very gradually. My burning tongue did not return, and I am now out of the menopause phase of my life.

Question: Why don’t more doctors access Medline – or a medical librarian for help when they don’t have answers to questions like this?

I used to have a burning tongue and it was a great source of pain and irritation. I asked my doctors and my dentist for help. No one had any suggestions. Finally, being a law librarian, I contacted a friend who was a medical librarian and asked her to do a Medline search for me on this subject. She came up with some studies that I showed my primary care physician suggesting that low estrogen could be the problem. She increased my Premarin to a higher dose and it helped tremendously. A few years later after some information about the dangers of estrogen became known, I decided to stop taking it. With my doctor’s guidance, I tampered off very gradually. My burning tongue did not return, and I am now out of the menopause phase of my life.
Question: Why don’t more doctors access Medline – or a medical librarian for help when they don’t have answers to questions like this?

I have recently started to have this problem after I drink anything with artificial sweeteners. If I drink water only the sensation goes away. I add a kool aid like powder to my water and this is the problem I have after words, stinging and burning sensation. I also hope this brings to light another thing to look out for and be aware of. Thank you.

Sorry about that spelling! It’s Xantan Gum!

I have also found that the Xanthun gum used to thicken such things as salad dressing & A1 saucet causes my mouth to burn, I check the label to see if it’s in the product before I eat it.

I have an auto-immune condition called lichen plantus. My mouth burned like fire for 25+ yrs. I went to a specialist and tried all types of medications. Sometimes I would have to have shots on my tongue just so I could eat. Even drinking water burned. Stress & antihistamines were my biggest triggers. The burning caused stress and the stress caused burning so it was a vicious cycle. I have to have allergy shots for my allergies because antihistamines really set it off also!
Myy dermatologist prescribed Cell Cept and it has kept my condition under control. Recently I went thru a very stressfull period and it flared back up but still not as severe as it was before the Cell Cept. I have to have blood work every three months to monitor my health but it is worth it.
At one point I tried to cut back on the Cell Cept but the lichen plantus was lurking underneath. So, I am back to my usual dosage. I just pray that I won’t ever have to go off the Cell Cept or that something new will come on the market that will work as well! This is such an unknow disease unlike psoriasis.

I had burning mouth syndrom…though undiagnosed for years. I stopped using any toothpaste or mouthwash with sodium laurel sulfate and that cured it. I use Welada or any toothpaste (Crest is coming out with one) without it. I think the syndrome is caused by anything that dries out your mouth…think how chapped hands feel. I believe that’s why people do “Oil pulling” is to hydrate the mouth or lessen the dryness.
Also, a good idea to drink a lot of water. Baking soda may also be drying.

Hi Marsha, I have had burning mouth for 4 years. I’ve recently started eating aloe Vera barbadensis (the medicinal plant). I’ve been doing this for about 5 weeks now. My BMS has improved out of sight. I’ve tried everything. Have a look on the Internet. Aloe Vera Is good for burns. I have burning mouth. I figured there was nothing to lose. Please try it. And if it works for you please let me know. I can’t believe the difference. It’s very gradual but it’s worked for me.

may be Lichen Planus….A skin condition that can make the inside of your mouth painful. Both I and my daughter have it. My Dentist diagnosed it first then the dermatologist agreed. I use Clobetasol Propionate .05 %. It is for external use but ok for small amts inside mouth. Google it! I dry my mouth with tissue first, then apply small amount. Hope this helps….

I get burning mouth syndrome and I have found that certain things trigger it, including any food, drink or products that include any form or mint, caffeine, or whiteners. Also, I sometime grind or clamp down on my teeth when stressed and that sets the burning sensation off. Finally, dry mouth can cause the burning sensation to start. Avoiding these things, treating dry mouth and managing stress is the only thing that helps when the burning starts. Hope this helps.

I agree with you, Diane. Caffeine, alcohol, mint, & certain fruits, I use regular Crest toothpaste because it is the only one that doesn’t burn.

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