Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a condition that causes people to feel like their mouths are always burning. The pain starts on the tongue or palate, which feels like it's being burned by hot coffee. Depending on the person, BMS can last for months or even years without any relief in sight. Find out what to do about burning mouth syndrome before it's too late to treat your symptoms.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Prescribed medication
- Ice chips or gum
- Baking soda
Call your doctor immediately if you have persistent pain in your tongue, lips and gums that lasts longer than a week. If you do, you might have BMS. Doctors can diagnose you through various blood tests to check your blood count for any health deficiencies. Doctors also use an oral swab or biopsy to directly test a piece of your mouth tissue if they suspect BMS. If you have BMS, talk with your doctor about treatment options.
Take prescribed medication to treat your burning mouth symptoms. There's no medication specifically to treat BMS, but medications such as clonazepam and gabapentin can relieve your symptoms. These two medications directly treat pain on your taste bud area. Another medication that works on BMS symptoms is lamotrigine, an anticonvulsant for epilepsy, which directly relieves any mouth pain.
Change your daily habits to treat BMS symptoms. Start taking B vitamins and minerals such as iron and zinc to control any possible nutritional deficiencies. Also check with your doctor to see if any of the medications you're currently taking cause BMS as a side effect. If so, get a different medication prescribed. Also remove from daily use all alcohol-based items such as mouthwash, cinnamon or mint products, and cigarettes, all of which tend to cause BMS symptoms to flare up.
Treat your BMS symptoms during the day by keeping your mouth occupied. Chew ice chips or sugar-free gum to ease the burning.
Care for your mouth differently at night to treat any nighttime BMS pain. Find a different ADA-approved toothpaste or brush your teeth with baking soda. Also keep your dentures out for the entire night if you wear them. If the pain persists, call your doctor the next day to see if you missed something at your previous visit.
Tips and warnings
- People who clench their teeth at night are more likely to get burning mouth syndrome. Keeping your tongue against your teeth leaves it feeling sore. Control clenching and BMS through prescribed medication or use a mouth guard. If you choose to do either, your tongue will feel better and your chances of getting BMS decrease.
- Ignore the rumor that only menopausal women suffer from burning mouth syndrome due to a loss of estrogen that affects their taste buds. Some men and even teenagers suffer from the condition, though it's not as common. Regardless of gender and age, anyone with the condition should see a doctor immediately.