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What Causes Burning Mouth Syndrome?

What is Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Burning Mouth Syndrome is a benign condition involving the region of the mouth in which the affected individual feels a burning sensation in the mouth without any known source(1). Generally, a burning sensation is felt when someone eats hot or extremely spicy food but in Burning Mouth Syndrome this burning sensation comes out of nowhere.

Burning Mouth Syndrome is normally seen in postmenopausal females, although males and females or child bearing age also at times get Burning Mouth Syndrome(1). The primary presenting feature of this condition is a burning sensation on the side and tip of the tongue. A burning sensation is also felt around the roof of the mouth and inner portion of the lips. However, the burning sensation is not localized to these areas mentioned alone and it may encompass the entire mouth and lips as well.

What is Burning Mouth Syndrome?

The affected individual will feel as if they have eaten something very spicy or hot with a typical metallic taste in the mouth(2). The sensation is minimal at best first thing in the morning but tends to get worse as the days progress and is at its worst in the evening time.

There may be some days when the burning sensation is less but the symptoms remain unrelenting for the most time. What exactly causes Burning Mouth Syndrome is what has been discussed below in the article.

What Causes Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Burning Mouth Syndrome can be either primary or secondary with its own set of causes (3):

Primary Burning Mouth Syndrome is said to occur when there are no abnormalities found on routine lab test which can be termed as a cause for this burning sensation(3). It is also known as idiopathic Burning Mouth Syndrome. The cause for this is believed to be related to the sensory nerves of the mouth and the taste buds, although there is no clinical evidence to support it.

Secondary Burning Mouth Syndrome occurs when this condition develops as a result of some other underlying medical condition that the individual may be suffering from(3). Some of the medical conditions, which may lead to Burning Mouth Syndrome are: dry mouth also known as xerostomia which ir normally a side effect of certain medications, issues with salivary gland, or as a result of certain forms of cancer treatments. Oral thrush is yet another medical condition that results in Burning Mouth Syndrome.

  • Nutritional Deficiencies Causing Burning Mouth Syndrome: Certain nutritional deficiencies like folate, iron or zinc, vitamin B1, B6, or B12 can also cause Burning Mouth Syndrome(3, 4).
  • Ill-fitting dentures are also believed to be one of the causes for Burning Mouth Syndrome, especially if they are made up of material that the individual may be allergic to or irritate the tissues of the mouth(3, 4).
  • Food Allergies Causing Burning Mouth Syndrome: Certain food allergies, allergies to dyes, or fragrances can also lead to Burning Mouth Syndrome(4).
  • Medical conditions like GERD where the acid from the stomach regurgitates into the throat or mouth can also cause burning sensation(5).
  • Bruxism and biting of the lip are certain habits which may leads to the development of Burning Mouth Syndrome.
  • Burning Mouth Syndrome Caused by Diabetes: People who are diabetic or have hypothyroidism also tend to have Burning Mouth Syndrome(6).
  • Burning Mouth Syndrome Caused by Stress: Additionally, emotional stressors, anxiety, and depression also at times cause burning sensation in the mouth(7).

What are the Risk Factors for Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Apart from the causes mentioned above, there are also certain risk factors which put an individual at risk for the development of Burning Mouth Syndrome. These risk factors for burning mouth syndrome are:

  • Postmenopausal females
  • Age above 45
  • Recuperating from a recent medical condition
  • Any history of a dental procedure of use of dentures
  • Allergies to certain food or food products
  • Life events that have been severely traumatic
  • Unrelenting stress


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 28, 2020

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