Have you ever woken up in the morning and felt your tongue burning? Like you just scalded it on hot coffee? Well, you’re not alone. Burning tongue is a fairly common thing, and can be caused by all sorts of things – from what you’ve been eating to more serious health conditions. The reasons for burning tongue (or gums/palate) can be difficult to pinpoint, especially if you’re experiencing more than one cause at a time. The best way to be sure is to make an appointment with your dentist. But until you can do that, we wanted to share with you a few of the causes behind ’burning tongue’ and what you can do to relieve them.
An Actual Burn
This might seem really obvious, but the most common reason for a burning sensation in the mouth or on the tongue is that you’ve actually burnt your tongue. This is easier than you think to do, since the cells on your tongue will burn at around 45°C. So if you drink hot coffee over a long period of time, you can actually create a ‘cumulative burn’. It doesn’t help that the , so when you do burn it, you will really feel it. So if you like your drinks scalding hot, it might be worth letting them cool a bit before you drink them!
Dry mouth is what it says on the tin – your mouth doesn’t have enough saliva to stay wet, and so you get that dry, sticky feeling known as ‘dry mouth’. This oral condition can be caused by a number of things, including diseases that affect the salivary glands, side effects of some medicines, natural hormonal changes or even just being dehydrated (as most of us are). Chronic dryness in the mouth can lead to a burning sensation on your tongue and a soreness in your mouth in general. If you get this sensation a lot, we recommend drinking more water and sucking on sugarless hard candies or chewing sugarless gum. This stimulates saliva production and can keep your mouth healthier.
Dryness in the mouth can also be caused by a lack of key nutrients in your body. Specifically, low levels of B vitamins and minerals including iron and zinc have been known to contribute to a burning sensation on the tongue. This one is the easiest to fix though – just eat a well-balanced diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy, nuts and healthy proteins. If you feel you’re eating well and still deficient, you can also try nutritional supplements.
Of course, the burning on your tongue could just be the cause of good old-fashioned irritation. Drinking too many sugary or acidic drinks, over-brushing your tongue, over-using mouthwash and eating spicy foods can all irritate the mouth tissues. This leads to that uncomfortable burning sensation, which is essentially your body’s way of saying ‘cut it out!’ Try cutting back on the sugary, acidic drinks and give your tongue a break from brushing for a while, and see if that clears it up. If it doesn’t, ask your dentist about your oral hygiene habits and whether they could be causing the irritation.
Many medications come with a mile-long list of side effects, and dryness is often on there. If you’ve recently changed or started a new medication and you’re noticing dryness and soreness in your mouth, it could well be a reaction. Go back to your doctor and let them know what’s happening. They may change your medication to eliminate the effect, or give you something to relieve the symptoms.
Oral / General Health Conditions
The burning could also be caused by underlying health issues. Things like oral thrush ( a fungal infection in the mouth) or geographic tongue (a condition that coats your tongue in a map-like surface). It could even be something completely unrelated to your mouth – like acid reflux, which causes stomach acid to splash up onto your vocal cords and sometimes into your mouth. If this acid gets onto your tongue, it can cause a minor burn and a lot of irritation. Luckily a dentist can diagnose the problem with a simple check-up, and if needed provide you with some options to reduce the discomfort.
If you’re experiencing any issues with your mouth, gums, palate or tongue, it’s always worth making an appointment with your dentist. They will be able to tell you the cause of your discomfort, and provide you with options to relieve it. They will also be able to give you tips to avoid it in the future, and can potentially diagnose some more serious health issues just by examining your tongue. If you’re concerned about your oral hygiene or just want a professional opinion, and book your check-up.
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