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Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS)

Burning mouth syndrome facts*

*Burning mouth syndrome facts medical author: Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

  • Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) describes a painful sensation of the tongue, lips, or palate. It also may involve a general sensation of discomfort of the whole mouth.
  • The cause of burning mouth syndrome is not known; BMS is not itself a disease but describes symptoms.
  • In addition to pain, other BMS symptoms may include
    • tingling or numbness,
    • a metallic taste,
    • alterations in the taste sensation (dysgeusia), and
    • dry mouth (xerostomia).
  • There are many different potential causes of burning mouth syndrome, and diagnosis may require examination of the mouth, as well as evaluation for illnesses and diseases that can affect other organs of the body. As of now, BMS is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that other causes of mouth pain need to be excluded.
  • Other causes of mouth pain may be due underlying diseases like diabetes, thyroid disorders, and vitamin deficiencies, mechanical problems like poorly fitting dentures, or medications including high blood pressure medications (ace inhibitors and angiotensin receptor inhibitors) and antiviral drugs. Tobacco and alcohol use need to be considered as potential causes of mouth pain.
  • Burning mouth syndrome can be diagnosed only when no other underlying cause of mouth pain is found.
  • Because there is no specific cause for BMS, different treatment options might be considered and would be individualized for each patient.
  • Some recommended home remedies include capsaicin, mineral and vitamin supplements (B, folate, zinc, and iron), and chewing sugar-free gums containing sorbitol to stimulate saliva formation.

Key Points

  • Burning mouth syndrome is burning pain in the mouth that may occur every day for months or longer.
  • Doctors and dentists do not have a specific test for burning mouth syndrome, which makes it hard to diagnose.
  • No specific treatment works for all people. However, your doctor can prescribe medicine to help you manage mouth pain, dry mouth, or other symptoms.


The main symptom of burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is pain in the mouth that is burning, scalding, or tingling. Or, the pain may be a feeling of numbness. Other symptoms include dry mouth or altered taste in the mouth.

BMS is a painful condition. Usually, the tongue is affected, but the pain may also be in the lips or roof of the mouth, or throughout the mouth.

BMS pain can last for months or years. Some people feel constant pain every day. For others, pain increases throughout the day. For many people, the pain is reduced when eating or drinking.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/15/2016


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