Sore Burning Tongue, Dry Mouth, and Weird Tastes- What’s the Cause?

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Constant dry mouth and sore tongue from burning mouth syndrome could be vitamin B12 deficiency. Symptoms of glossodynia are painful burning tongue and dry mouth, in addition to swollen tongue with tongue sores and metallic taste in mouth.

Glossodynia- Burning mouth syndrome (BMS)

Glossodynia, or burning mouth syndrome, is a chronic pain syndrome that causes mouth pain, dry mouth, and taste disorders.  Areas affected include the whole mouth or single areas like the tongue, lips, gums, inside cheeks, or throat.  Sometimes, glossodynia is also referred to as burning tongue syndrome, as the burning tongue sensation is the most noticeable symptom.

  • Women over the age of 30 are 3-7 times more likely to suffer burning mouth syndrome than are men of the same age.
  • Tongue pain symptoms may come and go throughout the day, or they may intensify as the day progresses.
  • Burning tongue symptoms may linger for years, unless treated.
  • A high correlation exists between vitamin B12 deficiency and burning mouth syndrome comorbidities like heartburn, acid reflux, stress, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, and hypothyroidism.

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Symptoms of burning mouth syndrome

The most common description of BMS includes these symptoms:

  • Burning, scalding sensation in your tongue, lips, gums, roof of mouth, throat, or in your entire mouth
  • Tingling sensations in your mouth or on the tip of your tongue
  • Mouth numbness
  • Mouth pain that increases throughout the day
  • Dryness in the mouth
  • Intense thirst
  • Altered sense of taste, or loss of taste
  • Bitter or metallic taste in mouth
  • Beefy, red swollen and sore tongue
  • Tongue sores or lesions

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What causes burning mouth syndrome?

  • Vitamin deficiency. Vitamin B12 deficiency, in addition to other B vitamin deficiencies may cause burning mouth syndrome.  Also, iron and zinc deficiencies may be a cause.
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Thrush (oral yeast infection)
  • Stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Nerve damage- Pernicious anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency anemia) may cause neurological damage resulting in sore, burning tongue symptoms.
  • Wearing dentures
  • Food allergies
  • Gluten intolerance
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Drug interactions, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors for high blood pressure
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Drinking acidic beverages
  • Overbrushing your tongue
  • Endocrine disorders- diabetes or hypothyroidism
  • Hormonal imbalances- menopause or perimenopause

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What’s the treatment for burning tongue and dry mouth?

If vitamin B12 deficiency is causing burning mouth syndrome, then the only course of action is to supplement with vitamin B12.

If the cause of burning tongue symptoms is unknown (primary burning mouth syndrome), then your doctor may prescribe one of the following treatments:

  • Clonazepam
  • Alpha lipoic acid
  • Capsaicin
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Antidepressants
  • Lidocaine
  • Laser therapy
  • Topiramate
  • Olanzapine
  • Acupuncture

Read more about vitamin B12 deficiency:

Vitamin B12 Deficiency. Are you at Risk?

Painful Tingling in Hands and Feet- What’s Up with That?


Atrophic glossitis from vitamin B12 deficiency: a case misdiagnosed as burning mouth disorder- PubMed, NCBI

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome- Mayo