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Burning Tongue – Causes, Symptoms, Complications

Excerpt: Tongue burn typically occurs after you've consumed a food or beverage that was too hot.
Table of Contents

Tongue Burn - What Is It?

Tongue Burn typically occurs after you've consumed a food or beverage that was too hot. If you've had any kind of burn anywhere else on your skin the same thing can happen to your tongue. If you do have an actual burn on your tongue from food or drink that was too hot you should consider first aid for burns, as the same technique will work on the tongue. If you have the sensation of a burn on your tongue that is unexplainable, it may actually be a result of burning mouth syndrome.
Burning Tongue - Causes, Symptoms, Complications - 1 - Smiles Dental Group

What Causes Tongue Burn?

Tongue burn from food or drink

The most common causes of a burnt tongue, is eating or drinking foods or beverages that are overly hot. If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, you’ve probably already experienced having a burnt tongue at least once in your life. Generally, patience is the greatest virtue to prevent this.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) will cause the sensation of having a burnt tongue, when they’re is actually another cause that is making you feel that way.
Burning Tongue - Causes, Symptoms, Complications - 3 - Smiles Dental Group

What are some complications of tongue burn?

This question typically has a broad answer, it can be anything from no complications at all, to having 0 complications because nothing is wrong.

Tongue Burn

If you did consume food or drink that was too hot, than the severity of the burn will need to be assessed. The mouth tends to heal fairly fast so if it is a minor to moderate burn, you may be in temporary discomfort, but this should go away after a week or two. 


If your tongue is showing symptoms of a severe burn, redness, swelling, blistering, etc. Then you should make an appoint with your dentist immediately. With severe burns you can even risk loosing sense of taste since your tasted buds may be destroyed.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is significantly harder to diagnose on first glance since there are many factors that could contribute to the sensation of BMS.
Burning Tongue - Causes, Symptoms, Complications - 5 - Smiles Dental Group

Tongue Burn Treatments

Since the burns on your tongue have a lot in common with other burns, the treatment is the same. The main thing you’ll want to avoid is letting the tongue become infected.

To avoid infection of the tongue, follow these steps:

  • Saltwater rinse – Salt is anti-microbial, you can add a teaspoon of salt to a glass of water and swish it around your tongue gently every few hours. If you use cold water, you’ll have the added benefit of helping your tongue cool off even more.
  • Ice chip  – You can use ice chips to cool down your tongue.
  • Avoid warm or hot substances – Your tongue will be more sensitive during the healing process, so adding more heat won’t help.
  • Pain medication – Take the recommended doses of drugs like Advil or Tylenol can help with numbing the pain and preventing inflammation.
For more serious burns, watch out for these signs as they may signify infection:
  • Increased redness
  • Increased pain
  • Poor healing
  • Swelling
  • Drainage of pus
  • Fever

Tongue Burn Outlook

The duration of a burn will largely depend on the severity of the burn. Mild to moderate burns will typically last between 1-3 weeks at most. Severe burns may last longer, they can last up to 6 weeks. Some of the healing process will also greatly depend on the care the site received during the process.

You can always book a dental checkup if you have concerns on your oral health.
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