Do you wake up with a burning sensation on your tongue, even though you haven’t even taken a sip of your hot cup of coffee? Does the burning last all day long, making it difficult to eat or drink anything? If so, it is likely that you are suffering from what’s known as burning mouth syndrome (BMS).
This syndrome is characterized by constant or intermittent pain, discomfort, or burning sensation in the tongue, gums, lips, insides of cheeks, the roof of the mouth, or entire oral cavity. It commonly affects the tongue. Thus it is sometimes called burning tongue syndrome. (1)
Many people who suffer from BMS indicate anxiety, depression, personality disorders and impaired quality of life (QoL). While BMS can affect anyone, it is more common in premenopausal and postmenopausal women.
The definitive cause is still unknown, and it can be challenging for doctors to diagnose. A number of tests may be performed, such as an MRI or CT scan, a biopsy of a sample of tissue from the mouth, an allergy test, and complete blood count. Some of the tests are used to rule out other conditions.
- Causes of Burning Mouth Syndrome
- Symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome
- Preventing Burning Mouth Syndrome
- Home Remedies to Treat Burning Mouth Syndrome
- Method 1: Baking Soda
- Method 2: Vitamin B12
- Method 3: Sodium-Free Toothpaste
- Method 4: Alpha-Lipoic Acid
- Method 5: Aloe Vera
- Method 6: Capsaicin Gel
- Method 7: Cold Water
- Method 8: Diet
- Tips for relief
Causes of Burning Mouth Syndrome
BMS can be categorized as primary or secondary. (2)
Primary burning mouth syndrome: This condition is idiopathic, meaning no obvious abnormality or cause can be identified.
Secondary burning mouth syndrome: The following underlying conditions can lead to secondary BMS, meaning it is a result or symptom of the underlying condition.
- Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia.
- Fungal infections.
- Geographic tongue, in which map-like patches appear on the tongue.
- Ill-fitted dentures leading to irritation in the oral cavity.
- Allergies to certain foods, fragrances or substances used for oral care.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which involves reflux of stomach acid that can cause burning sensations.
- Certain medications.
- Unhealthy oral habits that can lead to irritation in the mouth.
- Hypothyroidism or other endocrinal disorders.
- Stress or anxiety.
While BMS can affect anyone, it is more common in premenopausal and postmenopausal women.
Symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome
- Constant or intermittent burning sensation, particularly on the tongue.
- Dryness in the mouth, accompanied by excessive thirst.
- Change or loss of taste.
- Bitter or metallic taste in the mouth.
The symptoms may last throughout the day and may get worse as the day progresses. The burning sensation may also be insignificant on certain days or it may feel like a scalding burn on other days. The symptoms may come and go for days or months.
Preventing Burning Mouth Syndrome
Since the cause of BMS is not certain, little can be done to prevent it. However, if you are already suffering from the condition, home remedies and certain diet changes as described in Method 8 may help you manage the symptoms.
Home Remedies to Treat Burning Mouth Syndrome
In conjunction with taking any medication prescribed by your physician, you can take certain self-help measures to control the symptoms. You may also be able to get rid of the condition completely by following the remedies religiously.
However, if treating secondary BMS, the underlying cause will play a significant role in deciding your road to recovery.
Here are the 8 home remedies to get rid of burning mouth syndrome. Give each a try and stick to the one that gives you the most relief.
Method 1: Baking Soda
Baking soda (aka sodium bicarbonate) is a readily available alkalizing agent that will regulate pH & help get rid of the acids in the mouth and relieve the burning.
Baking soda is used by health care practitioners alone or in combination with other treatments as a first line of defense against a number of health problems, including those that could be the culprit of BMS i.e., diabetes, kidney disease, cold, & flu.
It has even been shown to have beneficial effects in the prevention & treatment of cancer.
Baking soda has beneficial disinfectant properties & has been found to help the body effectively eliminate toxins, heal from oxidative stress, & if the burning is a symptom of an infection, the baking soda will disinfect & clean the site.
You can also use baking soda occasionally to brush your teeth, instead of using regular toothpaste that may sometimes trigger burning mouth symptoms.
Single-Step Treatment: Rinse your mouth with a baking soda solution
- Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 1 cup of tepid water.
- Mix it well and transfer the solution to a container for storage.
Use the solution as a mouth rinse 3 times daily to get rid of burning mouth syndrome in less than 1 week.
Method 2: Vitamin B12
If your body is deficient in vitamin B, especially vitamin B12, it can affect the tissues in the mouth, causing a burning sensation. (7) Upping your intake of foods rich in vitamin B can help counter the symptoms.
You can also check with your physician about time-release vitamin B12 supplements. The time-release supplement will give your body a steady supply of the vitamin throughout the day to keep the symptoms in check.
Single-Step Treatment: Take vitamin B12 supplements daily
- Take 3,000 to 5,000 mcg of time-release vitamin B12 supplements once a day.
- You can also eat food rich in B12, such as meat, liver, fish, eggs, cheese and seafood.
Vitamin B12 supplements should improve your symptoms within 20 minutes of taking the first dose. Continue to take it for at least 1 week to get rid of burning mouth syndrome.
Method 3: Sodium-Free Toothpaste
Changing your oral care habits can give you relief from the burning mouth. Many kinds of toothpaste contain sodium lauryl sulfate, the chemical that makes toothpaste foamy.
However, it can also irritate your oral cavity and lead to canker sores, bad breath as well as burning mouth syndrome. (6)
Opt for sodium-free toothpaste to brush your teeth. You can also add in some baking soda that helps alkalinize the acids in your mouth and relieve the burning.
Things you’ll need:
- Sodium-free toothpaste
- Baking soda (an alkalizing agent)
Single-Step Treatment: Brush your teeth with a mix of baking soda & sodium-free toothpaste
- Mix toothpaste and baking soda in equal proportions in a bowl.
- Use the blend to brush your teeth, instead of your regular toothpaste.
Use it daily whenever you brush your teeth. The symptoms should be gone within 1 week.
Continue to use sodium-free toothpaste without baking soda on a long-term basis to prevent future flare-ups. You can also use these recipes to make your own sodium-free toothpaste at home.
Method 4: Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Alpha-lipoic acid is a vitamin-like compound that works as an antioxidant, repairing nerve damage and preventing damage caused by free radicals.
In the case of burning mouth syndrome, it protects and heals the nerves in the mouth and eliminates the symptoms completely with regular consumption. (3)
Single-Step Treatment: Take alpha-lipoic acid supplements
- The recommended dosage is 600 mg per day to get rid of burning mouth syndrome.
- Alternatively, you can divide the dose into 200 mg and take it 3 times daily.
Take alpha-lipoic acid supplements for 2 to 3 weeks to relieve the burning. You can continue to take it longer if needed to treat the condition completely.
You can also eat potatoes, spinach, liver, and broccoli, which are naturally rich in alpha-lipoic acid.
Method 5: Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a natural coolant. It helps rehydrate as well as soothe sunburns and minor accidental burns.
In the case of burning mouth syndrome, the enzymes present in aloe vera form a protective coating on the delicate tissue in the oral cavity and speed up healing. Since it helps hydrate the tissue, it also gets rid of dry mouth and the related burning sensation. (5)
Single-Step Treatment: Apply aloe vera gel on the affected areas
- Extract the gel from an aloe vera leaf. You can learn how to extract aloe vera gel here.
- Use your finger to apply the gel all over the area that burns.
- Leave it for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse your mouth with cold water.
Reapply 2 or 3 times daily. You should notice improvement in 1 week. Continue using it every day until you get rid of burning mouth syndrome.
Method 6: Capsaicin Gel
Capsaicin a phytonutrient found in hot peppers has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. And when applied topically has shown to be an effective alternative for the short-term treatment of BMS.
In fact, a 2017 study reported the topical application of oral capsaicin gel for relief of burning/stinging sensations in patients with burning mouth syndrome (BMS) was an effective alternative for the short-term treatment in almost all participants. (3)(4)
Single-Step Treatment: Apply capsaicin gel to your tongue
- Apply capsaicin gel on the dorsal part of tongue three times daily for 14 days,
Method 7: Cold Water
Sipping cold water can work as a temporary remedy to reduce the burning. (8) The cold temperature will help numb the nerves briefly to provide relief. If the burning is due to dry mouth, drinking cold water will also provide hydration.
Single-Step Treatment: Sip on cold water frequently
- Sip on some cold water whenever you experience burning in your mouth.
- You can also have some ice cream or frozen yogurt to provide comfort.
Method 8: Diet
Different foods can work as triggers that worsen burning mouth syndrome. It is important to rev up your diet and also keep a check on which foods trigger or aggravate the symptoms.
You can follow a few basic do’s and don’ts to help alleviate the condition. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, foods that are rich in iron to lessen symptoms & possibly get rid of burning mouth syndrome. (9)
- Eat more iron-rich foods, such as leafy vegetables.
- Consume more eggs, liver and seafood.
- Include fruits and vegetables in your everyday meals to improve your overall health and well-being.
- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking at least 8 glasses of water throughout the day.
- Do not consume alcohol, carbonated drinks or caffeine when suffering from burning mouth syndrome.
- Reduce your intake of sugar in any form, as it aggravates the burning.
- Do not eat acidic or spicy foods.
- Reduce the amount of processed food that you eat.
Tips for relief
- If you don’t have aloe vera gel, you can also apply glycerin or honey to keep your tongue moist.
- Using salt water as a mouth rinse can also help reduce the burning.
- Do not use an alcohol-based mouthwash, as it will worsen the burning.
- McMillan R, Forssell H. Interventions for treating burning mouth syndrome. Interventions for treating burning mouth syndrome. https://www.cochrane.org/CD002779/ORAL_interventions-treating-burning-mouth-syndrome. Published November 2016.
- Aravindhan R, Vidyalakshmi S, Kumar MS, Satheesh C, Balasubramanium AM, Prasad VS. Burning mouth syndrome: A review on its diagnostic and therapeutic approach. Journal of pharmacy & bioallied sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4157273/. Published July 2014.
- Ritchie A, Kramer JM. Recent Advances in the Etiology and Treatment of Burning Mouth Syndrome. Journal of dental research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29913093. Published October 2018.
- Jorgensen MR, Pedersen ML. Analgesic effect of topical oral capsaicin gel in burning mouth syndrome. Taylor & Francis. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00016357.2016.1269191. Published December 22, 2016.
- Jimson S, Rajesh E, Krupaa RJ, Kasthuri M. Burning mouth syndrome. Journal of pharmacy & bioallied sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4439667/. Published April 2015.
- Gurvits GE, Tan A. Burning mouth syndrome. World journal of gastroenterology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3574592/. Published February 7, 2013.
- Chakraborty SK. FISSURED AND BURNING TONGUE. The medical journal, Armed Forces India. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5531982/. Published June 2017.
- Aljanobi H, Sabharwal A, Krishnakumar B, Kramer JM. Is it Sjögren's syndrome or burning mouth syndrome? Distinct pathoses with similar oral symptoms. Oral surgery, oral medicine, oral pathology, and oral radiology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6025751/. Published April 2017.
- Nasri-Heir C, Zagury JG, Thomas D, Ananthan S. Burning mouth syndrome: Current concepts. Journal of Indian Prosthodontic Society. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4762357/. Published 2015.
I have had BMS for almost 12 years, and it hasn’t got any better, in fact worse. I have seen a number of specialists, and have tried so many remedies. Specialists give up on you in the end because they run out of ideas, and sometimes I don’t think they believe you are in so much pain. I have tried Hypnosis, and Accupunture, but no luck. I hope that one morning when I wake up it will be gone.
Christine, I am so sorry you have suffered so long, I am going on 4 years and your story and mine are very similar. I just wanted to acknowledge you are not alone. I hope and pray you will wake up one day soon and it will be gone!
Please tell how you cope daily?
I’m only 1 year in but having read about it, I’ve already given up thinking that I will wake up one day to find that it has gone ?
I am 2 years in and I have also given up thinking that I will wake up one day to find it gone. Some days are worse than others, But it is always there.
You are definitely not alone. I pray for every person suffering from this horrible pain that one day research will find a way to cure this syndrome. I think its interesting that it is seen primarily in females. Do you mind me asking if you have any autoimmune disorders?
Does yours hurt daily and very severe?
How do you do it?
Join the club. It is so sore, I have had for 3 years and doctors do not know what to do. Some days I just want to sit and cry, like today.
I’ve had BMS for 5 years. I can’t imagine living with it for another 7. Although 3 years ago I couldn’t imagine living with it for another 2 years. I’ve tried almost all the remedies both pharmaceudical and natural. I hope yours goes away like just like you envision one morning waking up and it’s gone forever. Dr’s, dentists, they mostly don’t know what it is and they mostly don’t have any answers for it.
I found that my BMS is caused by an allergy to my custom made dental appliance (made from acrylic material and metal). I used them to treat my sleep apnea. I used 2 different manufactured units (Somnodent and Narval) nightly for many months. Then I stopped using them for a couple of weeks when I had a cold and couldn’t breathe through my nose and needed to breathe through my mouth. When I retried using the dental appliances, the symptoms appeared. When I discontinue using the appliance, the symptoms go away after about 2-3 weeks. My particular symptoms are sore tip of the tongue and very sore soft tissue inside my mouth where the dental appliance comes in contact with it, mostly inside my cheeks and in front of my front teeth – upper and lower.
Same here! My dentist had an appliance (splint with metal ball clasps) made from an orthodontic lab. I feel the same burning pain inside of my gums, and where the appliance touches it. Also, my tongue, and front teeth, just as you said. I am in the midst of trying another appliance which is made of just hard acrylic and no metal. Paying all started when I needed a new appliance, and a dental mold was taken. It was taken out very roughly, and I have had burning, searing pain ever since. I have been to about nine dentists, and none of them can figure out, nor correlated it to the appliance. However, when I took the appliance out, I was symptom-free the next day. I think some of us are just allergic to that particular type of acrylic/hard plastic that is used in certain appliances. Sadly, I don’t think many dentists, nor specialists have much knowledge in this area.
I am a 68 year old male and suffer from BMS. Mine began within a few days of an endoscopic procedure approx. 18 months ago. The burning flares up in late afternoon until I can fall asleep. It is pure hell and it gets old. I am trying the alpha lipoic acid supplement one more time. I see in Italy they had success with Botox injections directly to the tongue and lower lip. I am reluctant to this approach yet curious.
We are so sorry for your pain & suffering. BMS could be tormenting and no remedies can provide immediate relief in its case. We understand your pain and all we can do is to request you all to please be patient with your ongoing treatment, may it be home remedies/medicinal/any other alternative medicine.
We sincerely hope that your condition improves with time.
I thought your article was great!
How did you know these things would work for Burning mouth/tongue? Have you had the symptoms yourself?
I have had BMS for over 5 years. I read about the botox study in Italy and tried it this fall. I noticed relief from the symptoms in 24 hrs and was initially so hopeful but them after about 1 week of relief the burning started to come back. It was very discouraging. I had it done again 6 weeks later without success. The second time the botox used on my lower lips ( as recommeded by the article) made it difficult for me to smile and eat normally. Currently I am back to my normal status of constant burning. It is a daily challenge. I’m hoping that the Dr’s in Italy keep working on it!
I have had burning mouth syndrome for 16 years. I have many autoimmune diseases, thyroid disease, fibromyalgia, Celiac and several others. I am a very anxiety ridden person. Hate to say this but I have been to every kind of doctor but no one has an answer for the burning mouth syndrome. It’s there everyday. I am 69 and because of all of my illnesses am not very active. I do believe stress is the number one cause and depression with not getting relief from this syndrome. Wish I could give more positive answer to this problem but after all these years and many doctors no relief.
I am 32 years old and just went to the dentist to get my first fill in. Well 5 days later and my side of my tongue and bottom gums are still numb and my mouth is on FIRE. I went in to dentist with no issues but a small cavity and now I feel as though my life was just put on pause. I can’t eat, I can’t talk as much and I’m afraid I’m going to bite my tongue off in my sleep. I went to the dentist and she prescribed me some steroids but not sure if it will work for the burning sensation. Thanks
I have been in BMS, if this is it, since january after having teeth scaling. I dont know if scaling action caused the BMS, but it is right a week after this. My tongue is constantly on fire, feeling like cut by sharp knife, and all those hell feelings. Im really depressed now. But being depressed does not make it any better. Accepting, thinking or doing something that can distract your pain, and doing yoga, can help me relaxed. I learnt to make piece with the sickness, to accept it, while still searching for the cure. I sometimes talk to my sickness, please go away, or please dont disturb me. If you want to stay, just stay to remind me how im still more lucky than other people with horrifying illnesses. That I still can see my beloved ones, doing anything i want, except too much talking. Hope you all the sufferes can find the best treatment to yourself. My pray with you all.
Well, you all are just youngsters. I’m 82 1/2. BMS started this spring after having a crown replaced. Went to Urgent care on a Saturday because I couldn’t see waiting until Monday to see primary MD. It was that painful. He didn’t know what it was but prescribed a antibiotic that dentists use. Also gave me a mouthwash that the pharmacist mixed. It is (C/DIPH/LIDO/MINTOX/PREDNISOLO). In a few days it was better. Then several weeks later I Had 2 more crowns. Started again but started with mouthwash immediately. Sore tongue today. I have a grapefruit tree. I like Pepsi, Coffee and Mexican and Italian food. Bummer. TKS
I am female 62 years old, I have BMS. I’ve had it for over 2 years now . Ivw been to 7 Drs and a professor. No one has helped me, I have even been to a natural Dr. No help. I only have relief at night. I have found that mouth guards do help. I just read where people found sugar makes it worse I believe so too. My mouth tastes salty so I add no salt to my food. I am going to try the baking soda. But I do have auto immune disease too. I have since developed leukoplakia and lichen planus so I’m in pain all the time. I’ve tried Gabbapentine, conapazine , cymbalta and natural remedies. No luck, you don’t understand unless you have it, it’s awful. God help you if you do.
I have been fighting burning mouth for 10 years. I have seen many doctors and i have tried to avoid acid food, but nothing helps, The only time i am free from this terrible burning feeling is when i am sleeping. To help me through the day i am chewing gum almost all the time or having chocolate in my mouth. Chewing gum does make my jaws tired so then it must bee chocolate to rest the jaw. I do not thing there is a cure for Burning mouth desease.
I am also suffering from BMS. It is very uncomfortable, It started two years ago with no relief. I tried baking soda with some relief but the sensation always return. I hope a real cure will be invented for all of us who are suffering.
I am 49 and have burning tongue syndrome for 2 years now, I also suffer from multiple sclerosis since 95. I have tried the alpha lipoic acid and I have been so fatigued sleeping all the time the last 3 days I thought it was my Ms but apparently it’s this from reading all these comments. I am glad I am not alone and it is so discouraging doctors cannot help.
Have had the sensation of my edge of my tongue on fire .. burning the last 3 weeks . Now I have scalloped tongue as well . I must be thrusting my tongue against my teeth without knowing . Wondering if that’s what’s causing the burning . I am going to get blood work done , and then see a dentist . One of my biggest fears is a brain tumor and I’m scared they will tell me I need a MRI to check for a tumor pressing on those nerves 🙁
So I have had this (I think) as I have had to self diagnose, for a couple years, and it’s worsening. I have lost 25 pounds as eating is painful and I have altered taste. I had thyroid problems in the past, Graves, but my blood work is normal. I am 62 and life has change. I am seeing a common thread…maybe this is hormonal?
I was diagnosed with BMS by a neurologist about 4 months ago. I’m a 52 year old female. It started 3 months after a change in my blood pressure medicine (Lisinopril), newly prescribed Omeprazole, and having a silver filling replaced with a composite filling. My tongue only burns on the left side and tip of tongue where the filling was put in. I did not have a reaction right away, so they don’t think that is the cause. I’m taking Gabapentin 3 times a day now for a total of 2,700. It helped at first, but I’ve had to increase my dose over time. I stopped taking the BP medicine and Omeprazole. I’ve had blood tests for everything and all come back normal. I also occasionally get burning in my nose, pain in my left cheek and eye, as well as pain when I run my hand through my hair. I take Alpha Lipioc acid, but no change to symptoms yet. I start off having pain in the morning after about an hour after waking, then it worsens all day. Some days I end up crying and that’s when I go to Wendy’s and get a frosty. The frosty is very soothing as it just sits on my tongue and numbs the pain. It essentially brings relief. I also chew Hubba Bubba gum, suck on fruit Tic Tacs and gummy life savers. Ice water and ice chips help, as does eating. Bright lights and sounds sometimes aggravate me. I would love to find a cure for this horrible condition. I am overweight currently and wonder if that may be why there might be a blood vessel pushing up against the trigeminal nerve. No scans, so who really knows why the nerves are irritated.
I too have the burning on one side of tongue after 3 fillings and a tooth pulled.
This is just unbelievable! I never had this until I went to the dentist?