Symptoms and causes

What is it?

Burning mouth syndrome is characterised by a persistent burning feeling in the mouth (tongue, lips, cheeks, palate). This can be accompanied by a change in taste. Over time, this syndrome can also become very pronounced and can even change in intensity over the course of the day.

Causes

There are two types of this syndrome. With one type, no obvious cause of the syndrome is known.

With the other type, there is an underlying medical disorder such as:

  • dry mouth (xerostomy) as a result of reduced salivary gland function and side effects from cancer treatment
  • severe irritation due to abrasive tongue scraping
  • overuse of certain mouthwashes and toothpastes
  • other oral conditions: fungal infection, inflammatory diseases (e.g. lichen planus, dental and gum disease)
  • nutritional deficiencies: iron, zinc, folic acid, vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12
  • allergy to certain foods
  • burning stomach acid (reflux)
  • certain medications, such as those to reduce blood pressure
  • diabetes and thyroid conditions
  • psychological factors

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis

Given that there are various causes, your physician will prepare a tailored and individual treatment plan for you.

Treatment centres and specialisations

Ear, nose, and throat diseases

Latest publication date: 28/06/2021
Supervising author: Dr Vermeiren Judith