Can the menopause cause burning mouth syndrome?

by Lorna White |

Have you noticed a tingling or burning sensation in your mouth? You might be surprised to learn that it could be a symptom of ‘the change’

Burning mouth syndrome is a painful condition in which burning pain occurs on your tongue, lips, gums, roof of mouth, cheeks, back of throat and widespread areas involving your whole mouth. The sensation can feel very severe and feel like you have scalded the inside of your mouth.

Related: Does the menopause affect your teeth?

The condition affects more women than men, however, postmenopausal women are at greater risk of developing this condition because an hormonal imbalance is known to be one of the causes. Estrogen plays an important role in the formation of saliva, therefore, once estrogen levels decrease, as occurs during the menopause, this can cause a burning mouth. The condition can sometimes occur in younger people but is more common in women in their middle years and older.

Some sufferers feel constant pain suddenly, but for others the discomfort can come and go. The sensation felt is often described as scalding. The onset of burning mouth is very often immediate and it has been known to last for several months to several years.

The condition is usually absent at night, sufferers typically awaken pain free with symptoms getting progressively worse throughout the day into the evening where they peak and then subside.

Symptoms of burning mouth:

These symptoms can come and go or occur suddenly. Some experience symptoms for months and even years.

  • Burning or scalding sensation in the mouth but mainly on the tongue

  • Dry mouth

  • Itchy mouth

  • Sore mouth

  • Sticky mouth

  • A metallic or bitter taste in the mouth

  • A tingling, stinging or numb sensation in the mouth or at the tip of the tongue

  • Loss of taste

  • Increased thirst

If you’re not going through the menopause, then there may be another reason you’re suffering…

Causes of burning mouth syndrome:

There are two main causes of burning mouth syndrome - primary and secondary. Primary occurs when no lab abnormalities come back from tests and some researchers think that this could be down to a problem with the nervous system.

Secondary means that burning mouth syndrome is being caused by another underlying issue. The most common causes are listed below.

  • Diabetes

  • Oral candida (fungal infection of the mouth)

  • Medications (some blood pressure medications, oral medications and diuretics)

  • Dry mouth

  • Vitamin deficiencies (Vitamin B-12, iron, folic acid, niacin)

  • Gastric acid reflux

  • Blood abnormalities (anemia)

  • Allergies (toothpastes, mouthwashes, chewing gums, foods)

  • Dental disease

  • Psychological causes (anxiety, depression)

  • Inflammatory diseases

  • Tobacco use

  • Oral cancer

  • Chronic infections

  • Geographic tongue (inflammatory condition of the tongue)

  • Tongue biting

  • Lingual nerve damage

Find out more about how Oral health can cause burning mouth syndrome

Treatment of burning mouth

  • Increase water intake. Water can stimulate saliva production and keep your mouth moist

  • Chewing sugar-free gum can also help to keep the mouth moist

  • Rinsing out your mouth with cold apple juice can bring relief

  • Sucking on a piece of ice can bring instant relief

  • Avoid spicy and acidic foods and beverages

  • Use only alcohol-free mouthwashes

  • Increase intake of foods containing Vitamin B (bananas, lentils, liver, turkey, tuna)

  • Add iron rich foods to your diet (spinach, broccoli).

  • As burning mouth during menopause is associated with hormonal imbalance, natural menopause relief supplements may assist in bringing about a natural balance to your hormone levels.

  • If symptoms persist, visit your doctor

Find out more about burning mouth syndrome

Further reading on the menopause:

7 ways to manage the menopause

Reasons not to be scared of the change

Your menopause questions answered

The Yours guide to the menopause

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