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Disease Profile

Burning mouth syndrome

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset






Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

BMS; Stomatodynia; Burning mouth disorder


Burning mouth syndrome is characterized by long-lasting burning sensations of the mouth. The pain may affect the tongue, gums, lips, palate, throat, or the entire mouth. Burning mouth syndrome may be primary or secondary. Experts believe that the primary form may be caused by damage to the nerves that control pain and taste. The secondary form is caused by an underlying medical condition. In many cases, the underlying cause in unknown. Treatment depends on the symptoms present and aims to control them.[1][2]


Symptoms of burning mouth syndrome may include severe burning or tingling in the mouth which may persist or come and go over the course of months to years. The tongue is usually affected, but the pain may also be in the lips, gums, palate, throat or whole mouth. The burning sensation may be absent in the morning and increase over the course of the day, start first thing in the morning and last all day, or come and go all day long. For many, the pain is reduced when eating or drinking. Other symptoms may include a sensation of dry mouth with increased thirst, a bitter or metallic taste, or loss of taste. [1][2]


Burning mouth syndrome can be primary or secondary. Some research suggests that primary burning mouth syndrome is caused by damage to the nerves that control pain and taste. Secondary burning mouth syndrome is usually caused by an underlying medical condition. Some of the problems that have been linked to secondary burning mouth syndrome include:[1][2] 

  • Dry mouth, which can be caused by various medications or underlying health problems
  • Other oral conditions, such as fungal infections, oral lichen planus, or geographic tongue
  • Nutritional deficiencies, such as lack of iron, zinc, folic acid, thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, and cobalamin
  • Dentures, especially if they don't fit well and irritate the mouth
  • Allergies or reactions to foods, additives, dyes or dental work
  • Certain medications, in particular those for high blood pressure
  • Oral habits such as tooth grinding, tongue thrusting, or biting of the tongue 
  • Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism
  • Excessive mouth irritation which may result from over-brushing, use of abrasive toothpastes, over use of mouthwashes, or drinking too many acidic drinks
  • Psychological factors, such as anxiety, depression, or stress

For many people, the underlying cause of burning mouth syndrome can not be identified.[1][2]


If the underlying cause of burning mouth syndrome is determined, treatment is aimed at the triggering factor(s). If no cause can be found, treatment can be challenging. The following are potential therapies for burning mouth syndrome; we strongly recommend that you work with your health care provider in determining which therapy is right for you.[2]

  • A lozenge-type form of the anticonvulsant medication clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Oral thrush medications
  • Medications that block nerve pan
  • Certain antidepressants
  • B vitamins
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Special oral rinses or mouth washes
  • Saliva replacement products 
  • Capsaicin

In addition to these medications, the following measures may be helpful in reducing symptoms of burning mouth syndrome:[1]

  • Sip water frequently
  • Suck on ice chips
  • Chew sugarless gum
  • Avoid irritating substances like tobacco, hot or spicy foods, alcoholic beverages, mouthwashes that contain alcohol, and products high in acid, like citrus fruits and juices, as well as cinnamon or mint.

Learn more

These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

Where to Start

In-Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • The Merck Manual for health care professionals provides information on Burning mouth syndrome.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Burning mouth syndrome. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


  1. Burning Mouth Syndrome. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. July 2014; https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/oralhealth/Topics/Burning/Documents/BurningMouthSyndrome_082714_508C.pdf.
  2. Burning Mouth syndrome. MayoClinic.com. February 2, 2016; https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/burning-mouth-syndrome/home/ovc-20179959.

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