Burning Mouth Syndrome and Diabetes – How Are They Connected?

Burning mouth syndrome is a recurrent condition that causes a burning sensation on the tongue and other oral tissues.

It is a poorly understood condition as there is no evidence of any clinical sign. Burning mouth syndrome can last from months to even several years.


Have you ever felt a painful sensation in your mouth that might have spread to the tongue, gums, cheeks, and lips? The chances are that it could be the onset of burning mouth syndrome.

Burning mouth syndrome and diabetes are quite connected to one another, and that is one of the reasons why detection of burning mouth syndrome among diabetic patients is easy.

Often, it is difficult to determine the specific cause of this condition which makes the treatment more challenging. However, working closely with the health care team can help to minimize the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome.

This article will highlight everything about burning mouth syndrome and how it is connected to diabetes.

What is burning mouth syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome is an oral condition which causes sudden burning, tingling or scalding sensation in the mouth. The most common areas involved are the tongue, gums, roof of the mouth and cheeks. (1)

The onset of burning mouth syndrome is unpredictable, and the symptoms may last for months to several years.

Burning mouth syndrome is a rare oral condition with a prevalence of only 2% among the population. The diagnosis and treatment of burning mouth syndrome are often challenging as very little is known about this disease.

What causes burning mouth syndrome?

There are various causes of burning mouth syndrome. Most commonly diabetic or post-menopausal women suffer from the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome. (2)

Some of the possible origins of burning mouth syndrome may include –

  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Diabetes
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Damage to nerves that sense the taste
  • Oral infections especially fungal infections of the mouth
  • Acid reflux
  • Ill-fitting dentures
  • Depression
  • Stress and anxiety

How is diabetes linked to burning mouth syndrome?

People with diabetes have decreased immunity, and they frequently suffer from oral infections. Dry mouth is a common factor that often causes a variety of symptoms which sometimes may be similar to the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome. (3)

Medications used to control diabetes zap the natural moisture from the mouth and decrease bacterial clearance from the oral cavity. Additionally, diabetic medicines also develop vascular changes in the small blood vessels of the mouth and lower the pain threshold.

Hence a diabetic person becomes susceptible to the following oral conditions –

  • Dry mouth
  • Oral thrush
  • Neurological abnormalities

Neuropathy is common in diabetic patients. The nerve damage often causes a tingling, burning or painful sensation in the mouth.

Such oral situations trigger the onset of burning mouth syndrome in diabetic patients.

What are the symptoms?

Typical symptoms of burning mouth syndrome include a severe burning sensation in the oral tissues. Often the burning sensation starts during late mornings, reaches a peak threshold by evening and subsides down during the night.

Other potential symptoms include –

What is the appropriate treatment?

It is tough to determine the exact cause of burning mouth syndrome. This is the reason why there is no definite line of treatment for this oral condition. (4)

For people with diabetes, maintain their blood sugar levels under control is the key to minimize the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome.

Improvements in glycaemic control play a crucial role in reducing the chances of dry mouth and oral thrush which may trigger burning sensations in the mouth.

A general course of treatment for healthy individuals may include prompt control of the potential causes.  

  • Replace any ill-fitting dentures
  • Take supplements for a nutritional deficiency
  • Consult a doctor to control diabetic levels and hormonal changes
  • Change the medicines if required
  • Take medications to treat oral thrush, nerve impairment, and dry mouth
  • Relive stress and anxiety by adapting therapy sessions and meditation in your daily life

How can you soothe burning mouth syndrome?

To ease your mouth from the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome you can do the following activities –

  • Sip water frequently during the day
  • Suck on ice chips to maintain moisture in the mouth
  • Sugarless chewing gums can help to stimulate salivary flow in the mouth
  • Avoid spicy or hot food and carbonated drinks
  • Switch to a non-alcoholic antibacterial mouthwash
  • Avoid the consumption of highly acidic fruits and juices
  • Maintain good oral hygiene to reduce the incidence of oral infections

Unfortunately, there is no definite treatment for burning mouth syndrome. Therefore, it is necessary to take every precautionary measure to minimize the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome.

Dental professionals can provide accurate instructions that will help you to stay away from the misery of this oral condition.

Take away message

People with diabetes often suffer from a variety of oral problems that are often related to the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome. This is one of the reasons why it is easy to detect this oral condition among people with diabetes.

The line of treatment for such people depends on to maintain their blood glucose level and good oral hygiene. Doctors and dental professionals can guide you to control the severe symptoms of burning mouth syndrome efficiently.

Burning mouth syndrome has a painful and irritating occurrence. This unpredictable oral condition can have its symptoms last for several months and years. (5)


Often, the exact cause of burning mouth syndrome cannot be determined which makes the course of treatment indefinite.

Symptomatic treatment is the only possible way to minimize the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome.

Now that you have read about the relation between burning mouth syndrome and diabetes stay aware of any symptoms and live healthily.


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