Burning mouth syndrome cause and treatment
June 10 2016 by Ray Sahelian, M.D.


It's a burning sensation that gradually spreads across the tongue through the course of the day, and it has a medical name: glossopyrosis, or more commonly, burning mouth syndrome. The condition can be frustrating to treat, but usually some relief can be found. Burning Mouth Syndrome is most common in people over 60 and occurs more frequently in women than in men. It can last for weeks or even years.


Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is defined as a chronic pain condition characterized by a burning sensation in the clinically healthy oral mucosa. It is difficult to diagnose BMS because there is a discrepancy between the severity, extensive objective pain felt by the patient and the absence of any clinical changes of the oral mucosa.


Cause of burning mouth syndrome
Most often, it seems, multiple factors play a role in producing symptoms. Disease, medications or nutritional deficiencies can all be involved, but often no single cause can be pinpointed. Medical conditions linked to burning mouth syndrome include Sjogren's syndrome, diabetes and underactive thyroid, while deficiencies in iron, zinc, folate and some B vitamins have also been linked to the condition. Stress and anxiety can also be a factor.


Natural and alternative treatment

Alpha lipoic acid and Gabapentin
Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS) is a disease that manifests as burning in the tongue or in any area of the oral mucosa, in the absence of clinically verifiable injuries. To verify the efficacy of alpha lipoic acid (ALA) and gabapentin (GABA), used individually and jointly, to reduce the burning in patients with burning mouth and establish a drug therapy for the BMS. Study Design: During April and May 2008, we conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in the Department of Clinical Stomatology, Faculty of Dentistry, Rosario, Argentina. The 120 patients were randomly divided into 4 groups and were provided, by lot and in a blinded fashion, with four different treatment cycles consisting of the following drugs: Group A 600 mg / day of alpha lipoic acid for two months, Group B 300 mg / day of gabapentin for two months, Group C a combination of both drugs for two months and Group D 100 mg / day of cellulose starch for two months (control group). Results and Conclusions: all 120 patients completed the treatment. The best response was obtained with the combination of ALA + GABA, with a 70% of the cases with reduced burning in this group and a 13 times greater chance of presenting positive changes for these patients than those taking placebo. The combined use of drugs that act at different levels of the nociceptive system can be useful for the treatment of this syndrome. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal. 2010. Combination of alpha lipoic acid and gabapentin, its efficacy in the treatment of Burning Mouth Syndrome: A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial. San Luis 4303- Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina.


Q. Is alpha lipoic acid helpful in burning mouth syndrome?
   A. Perhaps in some cases.

Q. I have burning mouth syndrome now for five months I have tried many things to gain relief. Nothing has been successful, Is there any herb or supplement that has helped people with this condition and symptoms.
   A. The only natural supplement we have seen any good research on is alpha lipoic acid.


Zinc deficiency may be a cause of burning mouth syndrome as zinc replacement therapy has therapeutic effects. Zinc is a mineral known to play an important role for growth and development, the immune response, neurological function, and reproduction. Although the etiology of burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is unknown, zinc deficiency may be implicated in the pathogenesis of BMS. Zinc deficiency might play a role in some patients with BMS. In such patients, appropriate zinc replacement therapy is effective in relieving symptoms. J Oral Pathol Med. 2010. Department of Otolaryngology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Burning Mouth Syndrome Treatment
If dry mouth accompanies the syndrome, it can be treated with medications that stimulate saliva flow, saliva substitutes, drinking water or even chewing gum. Treatment for oral yeast infection, or thrush, may also be helpful even if such an infection isn't apparent. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and unflavored toothpaste, and staying away from alcohol-based mouthwash, also is helpful. Since some medications, such as ACE inhibitors used to treat high blood pressure, can cause dry mouth or mouth pain, switching drugs may help, as can treating any underlying nutritional deficiencies.


Pain, tingling or numbness may be felt in the throat, lips, gums or palate as well as the tongue, and sensations can involve a metallic taste in the mouth.