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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Burning mouth syndrome

*

* Not a rare disease

Other Names for this Disease
  • BMS
  • Stomatodynia
  • Burning mouth disorder
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Your Question

I am looking for any information on treatments and causes for burning mouth syndrome.

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is 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.[1][2]
Last updated: 3/28/2016

What are the symptoms of 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. [1][2]
Last updated: 3/28/2016

What causes 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:[1][2] 
  • 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.[1][2]

Last updated: 3/28/2016

How might burning mouth syndrome be treated?

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.[2]  

  • 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:[1]

  • 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.

Last updated: 3/28/2016

Are there clinical trials involving burning mouth syndrome?

Yes. The U.S. National Institutes of Health, through the National Library of Medicine, developed ClinicalTrials.gov to provide patients, family members, and members of the public with current information on clinical research studies. Currently, clinical trials are identified as enrolling individuals with burning mouth syndrome. To find these trials, click on the link above and use "burning mouth syndrome" as your search term. After you click on a study, review its "eligibility" criteria to determine its appropriateness. Use the study’s contact information to learn more. Check this site often for regular updates.

You can also contact the Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison (PRPL) Office at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We recommend calling the toll-free number listed below to speak with a specialist, who can help you determine if you are eligible for any clinical trials.   If you are located outside the United States, and would like to be contacted via telephone, you will need to provide your telephone number in full, including area code and international dialing prefix.

Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office
NIH Clinical Center
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-2655
Toll-free: 800-411-1222
Fax: 301-480-9793
Email: prpl@mail.cc.nih.gov
Web site:  http://clinicalcenter.nih.gov/

You can find information about participating in a clinical trial, as well as learn about resources for travel and lodging assistance, through the Get Involved in Research section of our Web site.

Last updated: 3/28/2016

References
Other Names for this Disease
  • BMS
  • Stomatodynia
  • Burning mouth disorder
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.