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5 Possible Causes of Tongue Burning

A burning sensation on the tongue is a relatively common symptom, especially after drinking a very hot drink, such as coffee or hot milk, which ends up burning the tongue lining. However, this symptom may also arise for no apparent reason, and may indicate a health problem such as nutritional deficiency, mouth irritation or just a dry mouth syndrome, for example.

So, whenever tongue burning suddenly occurs and takes more than 2 to 3 days to disappear, it is recommended you see a dentist or even a general practitioner to evaluate the oral cavity and identify the cause, initiating the most appropriate treatment.

5 Possible Causes of Tongue Burning

1. Eat hot, sour or spicy foods or drinks

This is the main cause of tongue burning that arises in almost every person at least once in a lifetime. Burning arises because ingesting something too hot, the temperature may end up causing a burn on the tongue, lips, gums or cheeks. In addition, acidic foods such as citrus fruits or very spicy foods can damage the tongue and cause a burning sensation. Most of the time, this burn is mild but can cause discomfort and loss of sensation for up to 3 days.

What to do: To relieve symptoms, give preference to cold foods and beverages, leaving foods warmer after symptoms disappear. So a good technique is to let the food cool before eating, for example. Also avoid spicy food and acidic fruits such as kiwi, pineapple or grapefruit, for example. In addition, good oral hygiene should be maintained and if the burn is very severe consult a general practitioner.

2. Dry mouth

Dryness of the mouth arises when the salivary glands cannot produce enough saliva to keep the oral mucosa and tongue moist. When this happens, a burning or tingling sensation in the tongue is normal.

Some of the most common causes of dry mouth include salivary gland problems or use of some medications. In addition, diseases that compromise the immune system, such as Sjögren's syndrome, AIDS, and diabetes also cause dryness of the mouth, and hormonal changes, more common in women, can also cause dryness of the mouth, so some people may have it. burning the tongue at specific times of life, such as during menstruation, for example. 

What to do: When your mouth is very dry, you should increase water consumption or chew sugar-free gum, for example to stimulate saliva production. However, when dryness persists for a long time, a general practitioner should be consulted to identify the cause and initiate the most appropriate treatment.

3. Lack of vitamin B

The lack of B-complex vitamins usually can cause a slight inflammation of the oral mucosa, leading to burning of the tongue, gums and cheeks. However, lack of minerals like iron and zinc can also cause the same kind of symptoms.

This type of deficiency is more common in people who are not on a varied diet or who follow a more restricted lifestyle, such as vegetarians or vegans. See which foods are rich in vitamin B, zinc or iron.

What to do: The ideal is always to have a varied diet, however, if there is a suspicion that there is a deficiency of any vitamin should consult the doctor for a blood test and start the necessary supplementation.

5 Possible Causes of Tongue Burning

4. Fungal infection

A yeast infection, known as candidiasis, can also develop on the tongue, especially when poor oral hygiene is lacking. When this happens, it is common to get a tingling or burning sensation in the tongue, as well as other signs such as bad breath and whitish tongue.

What to do: Usually the infection can be controlled with proper oral hygiene at least 2 times a day. However, if it does not disappear within 1 week, a dentist or general practitioner should be consulted as some antifungal may be required to treat the infection.

5. Burning Mouth Syndrome

This is a relatively rare syndrome in which the burning sensation on the tongue, lips, palate and other areas of the mouth arises for no apparent reason and can last for several years. In addition, other signs such as tingling and taste changes may also occur, especially affecting women over 60 years.

The causes of this syndrome are not yet known, but excess stress, anxiety and depression appear to be factors that increase the risk of developing it.

What to do: When this syndrome is suspected, a doctor should be consulted to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other possibilities. Your doctor may recommend mouthwashes and medications such as low-dose tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines or anti-convulsants. Treatment will depend on the person's physical examination, analysis and medical history.

When to go to the doctor

Normally, the burning in the tongue disappears in a short time, maintaining proper oral hygiene and drinking at least 2 liters of water a day. However, it is recommended you go to the doctor if:

  • The burning lasts for more than 1 week;
  • There is difficulty eating;
  • Other signs such as white plaques on the tongue, bleeding or heavy stench may appear.

In such cases, a dentist or general practitioner should be consulted to identify the correct cause and initiate the most appropriate treatment.

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