The People's Perspective on Medicine

What Can Be Done About Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome is a chronic condition that can be hard to treat; a reader got relief by avoiding fluoride, but alpha-lipoic acid has more support.

Q. I’ve had burning mouth syndrome for years. It’s especially troublesome in the evening. For a small amount of relief, I brush my tongue with a toothbrush. Do you have any ideas?

A. Doctors may have a hard time figuring out the cause of burning mouth syndrome. Sometimes it may be due to a nutritional deficiency (zinc, iron or B vitamins). It may also be triggered by a fungal infection.

Is Toothpaste Contributing?

Another possible source of burning mouth syndrome is sensitivity to dental materials. We recently received this letter from another reader:

“I had burning mouth syndrome that started after a fluoride treatment at my dentist’s. To ease it, I rinsed and brushed (with fluoride toothpaste) and my mouth would feel better for a few minutes. Then it would start to burn again.

“A visit back to the dentist showed that my mouth and gums were healthy. The dentist suggested that I stop using fluoride toothpaste, so I did. Within a day or two, the burning mouth had subsided. I now stay away from fluoride and have no burning mouth syndrome.”

Fluoride Is Not Usually a Cause of Burning Mouth Syndrome:

We heard from a dentist with expertise in oral medicine that fluoride is not a common culprit. He offered several suggestions for treatment based on solid research:

“While there may be some instances of sensitivity associated with fluoride, in general this substance does not cause oral burning. A relatively recent systematic review of reported research based interventions for the treatment of burning mouth syndrome (Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Jan 25;(1):CD002779; authors: Zakrzewska JM1, Forssell H, Glenny AM) suggests that only three treatment strategies may reduce BMS symptoms: alpha-lipoic acid (three trials), the anticonvulsant clonazepam (one trial) and cognitive behavioural therapy (one trial).

“The above results are supported by additional research. Your readers need to know this information.”

Jeff Burgess, DDS MSD

Boarded in Oral Medicine

We appreciate this input about effective treatments for burning mouth syndrome.

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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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I began to experience tingling on my lips,right thumb and index and middle finger for a week or so. Now my lips feel like they are constantly burning and so is he tip of my tongue. My finger tips are getting more numb on the right hand. Now, today I can feel a sensation in my throat at the back. The burning feeling has taken over the tingling.

Just before this happened, I experienced six silent migraines with auras but no headache,in one week. I had my eyes tested and all is OK. I recently had a fluoride treatment at the dentist. I am usually in excellent health at 65.

I am having blood tests for Vitamins B9 and B12. Reading your comments has made me feel better and will try some of the remedies, go on to natural toothpaste, take Mega B complex vitamins, suck ice and try the aloe vera. Thank you.

I had burning mouth a few years ago. I was iron deficient and my Hbg was 7.9. After two units of blood and venofer infusions, it completely went away. I enjoyed jalapenos and such for a couple of years, but my anemia has come back, and with it the burning mouth. I strongly feel from personal experience that iron deficiency anemia can cause this to happen and that it should be considered when trying to find the cause for this terrible syndrome. It is unpleasant to eat even the most mundane and mild things! I never knew I could miss hot wings so badly!

I’ve had intermittent burning mouth for several years and have tried different treatments such as natural toothpaste, B vitamins, dry mouth rinsing, thrush prescription medication and gotten no help from dentists or doctors.

I came up with a treatment that works. I have an aloe vera plant and cut off one of the branches. I sliced it open, spooned out the jelly and put 1/2 a teaspoon into my mouth. I swished it around for 2 minutes and then spit it out (you can swallow it but it can act like a laxative so I’ve read). I did not take anything else orally for at least a 1/2 hour.

I did the swish twice a day and my symptoms were gone within 2-3 days. I also tried using plain aloe vera juice by Nature’s Way which is gel like when stored in the refrigerator and can last 5 months once it is open. Anyway, it works as well as my plant source so I don’t have to cut up my aloe plant.

I’m 62 years of age and recently I gotten Burning mouth syndrome I canot find any drs or any help of any kind????????

I have tried the Biotene both gels and mouthwashes I was reading above about Aloe plants At this point I will try anything at all!!!
PLEASE PLEASE HELP ME it is like someone putting gasoline in yur mouth and lighting it!!!

My tongue had been feeling like it had been burned for two or three weeks, and I kept waiting for it to go back to normal. Finally realized I hadn’t actually eaten or drunk anything too hot for quite a while. I googled and discovered that “burning tongue” is an actual known syndrome, and then finally looked for it here on People’s Pharmacy. I saw two things I was willing to try immediately; switched to a “natural” toothpaste and started a daily modest dose of B complex vitamins. (I already take 1000 mcg of methyl B-12 daily.) As a previous commenter reported, the burning sensation diminished in a matter of days and is gone now. I wonder if the large dose of B-12 causes an imbalance among the B’s.

I’ve had a number of clients who learned they are burning mouth syndrome Was from chemicals other then fluoride in toothpaste, or mouthwash. Also link sometimes to be vitamin deficiencies. And finally sometimes food sensitivities that we uncovered with mediator release testing (MRT blood test) turned out to be triggers. If you search for a Certified Leap Therapist, somebody may be able to help you with testing.

Hope these studies prove something.

I also follow Dr. Mercola’s web articles, which are very detailed and informative. Dr. Mercola is hugely opposed to the use of fluoride in drinking water; he insists it causes all kinds of human health problems and should definitely be taken out of municipal water supplies. He’s written many articles on this subject, and I plan to educate myself more thoroughly — through a variety of sources — in the use of fluoride.

I was diagnosed with celiac disease ,after going gluten free the burning went away after awhile.

I’ve had this problem on the right side of my tongue for 40 years, it started after having my tonsils removed at age 32. I started getting allergy shots and that did help. Can’t do allergy shots due to heart medication now so stuck with burning especially sore at night after eating all day. I eat a bland diet, have been to several drs. years ago but no one could help. Don’t know if its allergy related but as i said the shots helped.

If the burning is only on 1/2 of the tongue and began after your tonsils were removed, it is highly likely that damage occurred to the lingual nerve (which provides sensory innervation to the tongue) during the surgery. At this point it probably will not change and will not be responsive to much, but you could try the medications mentioned above. Jeff Burgess DDS MSD – Boarded in Oral Medicine

I had this condition for some time. The first remedy is to not use any mouthwash or toothpaste that contains alcohol. Next, use a mouthwash designed for dry mouth syndrome, at night. I hope this helps you as this is a very enervating condition.

Over a decade ago, I tried buspirone for anxiety for a couple of months. One of the side effects that made me quit was burning mouth syndrome, which did not go away when I quit the drug. I was also on antidepressants at the time, paroxetine and trazodone, which I just read this morning should not be used with buspirone. My doctor and dentist didn’t know what to do for it, and internet searches failed to turn up any advice that was helpful. I did read that burning mouth syndrome is probably from nerve damage.

The only thing that helped somewhat was switching to a children’s toothpaste because regular toothpastes were very irritating. By this time, my symptoms have faded quite a bit, probably just from my body healing itself. I don’t think I’m sensitive to fluoride.

I sure hope you have been able to switch to all-natural treatments for your depression & anxiety issues. That is all I have ever used and I feel I am so much better off for it!! I have almost zero issues now…..
As for the possibility that your burning mouth issues are due to damaging the nerves, Arnica Montana is well-known to help heal nerve damage. It is available in many forms. Do some research on-line & see what you find.
I know someone who used it after a near-fatal stroke and has recovered to nearly full-functioning capacity, even after the doctors gave him up as hopeless. Though arnica was not the only natural treatment his family provided for him, it was the primary one. I used it in different forms to help heal my case of ocular (eye / face) shingles. Of course, we all know that each person will respond differently to different substances, so what may work very well for one person, will be only slightly helpful for another.
As you research, you may find some additional products & treatments to help heal nerve damage. Aromatherapy & essentials oils may also help. I wish you full recovery! Take care!

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