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What is burning mouth syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) or scalded mouth syndrome is a condition where a person feels a severe burning sensation on the tongue, palate, and lips.

It is a rare condition and the symptoms and causes vary largely from patient to patient.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

The main signs and symptoms of burning mouth syndrome are:

  •  A burning sensation on the tongue, which can be painful and feel like a scald injury.
  • Sipping on particular beverages like hot tea, or acidic drinks can aggravate the condition.
  • A person may also have a burning sensation on the lips or corner of the mouth.
  • Eating is difficult since taste perception is altered.
  • Rarely, a patient may also complain of numbness in the mouth.

What are its main causes?

The main causes of BMS include:

  • Primary BMS is not linked to any specific condition or cause. Its cause is often idiopathic, or unknown.
  • Secondary BMS is because of a particular agent, or an underlying disease.
    • Mouth infections like candida, or ulcers in the mouth can cause burning sensation.
    • Xerostomia or dry mouth occurs when saliva production is less. Dryness of the mouth can also lead to BMS.
    • People who have diabetes or thyroid disorders often complain of burning mouth. The hormonal imbalance causes xerostomia, which leads to the burning sensation.
    • Gastric conditions like acid reflux or GERD can also cause burning mouth syndrome.
    • Dentures made of acrylic may have sharp edges which can cause ulcers and burns on the cheek lining or floor of the mouth.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

  • Diagnosis of BMS is extremely easy based on the patient’s symptoms and physical examination. However, some tests can be carried out to determine the cause.
    • Blood investigations for diabetes, thyroid diseases.
    • Saliva examination for the quantity and quality of saliva.

BMS treatment includes:

  • Primary burning mouth syndrome not linked to any underlying cause is treated by relieving the burning sensation. For this, it is essential to make certain dietary changes such as: 
    • Avoid eating spicy food, acidic food, and irritants. Smoking and alcohol can also worsen the symptoms, so, avoid them
    • Eat a well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients.
  • The treatment of secondary burning mouth syndrome involves identifying the cause.
    • Acid reflux is controlled by dietary modifications and antacid tablets.
    • Hormonal disorders are controlled by insulin, medicines, and exercises.
    • Fungal medicines and antibiotics are effective in case of infections.
  • Home care includes chewing on ice chips, drinking cold beverages or placing aloe vera extract over the affected area.
  1. Medicines for Burning Mouth Syndrome
  2. Doctors for Burning Mouth Syndrome
Dr. Abhay Singh

Dr. Abhay Singh

1 Years of Experience

Dr. Suraj Bhagat

Dr. Suraj Bhagat

23 Years of Experience

Dr. Smruti Ranjan Mishra

Dr. Smruti Ranjan Mishra

23 Years of Experience

Dr. Sankar Narayanan

Dr. Sankar Narayanan

10 Years of Experience


  1. Zakrzewska J, Buchanan JA. Burning mouth syndrome. BMJ Clin Evid. 2016 Jan 7;2016. PMID: 26745781.
  2. Klasser GD, Grushka M, Su N. Burning mouth syndrome. Oral Maxillofac Surg Clin North Am. 2016 Aug;28(3):381-96. PMID: 27475513.
  3. National institute of dental and craniofacial research. Burning Mouth Syndrome. National institute of health. [internet].
  4. National institute of dental and craniofacial research. Burning Mouth Syndrome. National institute of health. [internet].
  5. Clinical Trials. The Efficacy of Melatonin in the Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS). U.S. National Library of Medicine. [internet].

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