Causes of Burning Mouth Syndrome

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The causes that lead to the development of burning mouth syndrome.

Burning mouth syndrome is like a burning sensation on the tongue and on the palate i.e. the roof of the mouth. Additionally, it may occur anywhere in the throat or mouth as well. It starts without any warning for no evident reason and continues for several months or maybe even years.

The causes leading to burning mouth syndrome can be termed either as primary or secondary.


When no lab or clinical abnormalities can be recognized, the condition is known as the idiopathic or primary burning mouth syndrome. As suggested by some researchers, this primary or idiopathic burning mouth syndrome is associated with problems associated with taste and the peripheral’s sensory nerves or the sensory nerves of the central nervous system.


At times, the burning mouth syndrome can be caused due to a primary medical condition. In such cases, it is known as secondary burning mouth syndrome.

Primary problems that may be associated with secondary burning mouth syndrome comprise of:

  • Xerostomia (Dry mouth) – that can be caused due to various medications, side effects of cancer treatments, problems with the salivary gland function and other health problems.
  • Other Oral Conditions – for example, oral thrush (i.e. a fungal infection affecting the mouth), oral lichen planus (i.e. an inflammatory condition), or geographic tongue (i.e. a condition that makes the tongue appear like a map).
  • Nutritional Deficiencies –  lack of cobalamin (vitamin B-12), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), thiamin (vitamin B-1), folate (vitamin B-9), zinc and iron.
  • Dentures – specifically, if they do not fit well, which can lead to stress on some tissues and muscles of your mouth, or if they’re full of materials that lead to the irritation of mouth tissues.
  • Reactions or allergies to dental-work substances, dyes, fragrances, foods, food flavorings or other food additives.
  • Stomach acid’s reflux (GERD – Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) that comes into your mouth from your stomach.
  • Precise medications, specifically high blood pressure medicines called ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors.
  • Oral habits, like tongue thrusting, teeth grinding (bruxism) and biting of the tongue’s tip.
  • Endocrine disorders, like hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or diabetes.
  • Excessive mouth irritation, that may result due to brushing your tongue excessively, overusing mouthwashes, using abrasive toothpastes or consuming a lot of acidic drinks, like lemon.
  • Psychological factors, like stress, depression or anxiety.