Whether you're feeling the painful symptoms of a burnt tongue thanks to some extra hot food or drink, it's definitely an issue you can't ignore. It hurts to eat, you won't be able to taste anything and sometimes it makes it difficult to speak. If you have a mild burn your tongue will heal quite quickly, but a severe burn may require some attention.
When you burn your mouth or have burning mouth syndrome, it's not just your tongue that can be affected. You can also get a burn on the roof of your mouth or get burnt lips – triple ouch!
Causes of burnt tongue
Most people get a burnt tongue from eating food or drink that is too hot, and therefore suffer from first degree burns. This means that only the top layer of the tongue is burnt. Unfortunately, your tongue can still swell up, look red, and frankly, feel horrible.
On the other hand, burnt tongue blisters, or tongue burn blisters, occur when you have a second-degree burn. This is when the underlayer of cells is burnt too, so it's more painful and your tongue will look even more red and swollen (1).
Secondary causes of burning mouth pain syndrome
Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a condition that can make you feel the sensation of a burn on your tongue for no apparent reason. The symptoms are ongoing and can last for years. There are several other conditions that can have similar symptoms and are known as secondary causes of burning mouth pain, like:
• dry mouth
• vitamin deficiencies
• allergic reactions
• certain medication
• teeth grinding
• hormonal imbalance
How long does it take a burn on the roof of your mouth or tongue to heal?
It can take minutes to days, depending on how burnt your tongue is. A tongue burn can heal in about two weeks without specific treatment. However, some burns can last up to six weeks while burning tongue syndrome can persist for months or even years. We know you want to heal your burnt tongue fast, so here are some quick-fix natural home remedies that can help.
Burning sensation in mouth home remedies
A spoonful of honey is an old Middle Eastern favourite. It instantly soothes the burn and relieves the pain. As honey has healing properties that are anti-viral and anti-bacterial, it can help prevent any infection and reduce the swelling quite quickly.
Put something cold like ice on the affected area. This really cools and soothes the pain of a burnt tongue and relieves some of the pain. Don't keep the ice cube on for too long though, or it will cause a different kind of burn!
Pour a spoonful of sugar on to the affected area and hold your tongue to the roof of your mouth until it dissolves. The glucose will reduce the burning sensation dramatically and ease any pain. We know this one sounds odd, but many people claim it really does help ease the pain of a burnt tongue.
Some people say that dabbing some minty toothpaste on a burnt tongue can help relieve the pain and discomfort. The minty sensation feels cool and has the effect of soothing the pain. Dab a little bit on the burnt bits of your tongue. Remember to rinse your mouth out after.
5. Salt water
Making a salt water gargle can also help and is recommended by dentists. Salt water has the same effect of cooling down the burn as well as killing any germs in the mouth. It prevents infection and the growth of bacteria in your mouth.
A dollop of cooling yogurt is one of the most effective home remedies for a burnt tongue from hot food, like the burn you get from really hot chilies. Put some on your tongue and let it sit for a while. Next time you have a hot curry, take a spoonful of yogurt. That's why you often see raita served with an Indian meal.
Burnt tongue from eating pineapple
This happens to the best of us – getting a burnt tongue when you eat some under-ripe pineapple. This is because of the bromelain, an enzyme that tenderizes meat. It has the effect of causing that tickly, prickly sensation on your tongue. Bromelain is highly concentrated in the core of the fruit. Your tongue will feel quite rough after eating too much pineapple, but not painful like when you burn it on hot soup.
To alleviate this, try gargling with some salt water as neutralizes the effect of the pineapple. To avoid this the next time, simply cut out the core. Did you know that people in Hawaii and East Asia like to sprinkle salt on the cut pieces of pineapple? You would be amazed that you don't get that burnt tongue feeling with salt!
Complications of mouth burns
The majority of mouth burns don’t end up needing medical attention and is considered a first-degree burn, so you can try the above natural home remedies and products to help you heal the pain of a burnt tongue or roof of mouth. If you opt for over the counter treatments, it's best to consult your doctor to help you find the right one for your issue.
Some people, though, get second-degree or even third-degree burns simply from trying to eat or drink something scalding hot. With second-degree burns the tissue of your mouth and tongue can blister, causing damage to multiple layers. Those with third-degree burns have damage that involves all layers of the tissue, which can leave it discolored and charred. If you think you have second- or third-degree mouth burns, you should seek medical attention straight away so as not to be left in agonising pain and with an infection. Blisters can actually form if not properly taken care of when you're dealing with a burnt tongue this bad.
Children with burns on tongue
The most common burn injury in kids that are 6 months to years old is a scald from hot foods or drinks. Since it’s such a regular incident, there are plenty of home remedies and treatments available to soothe your child’s burned tongue or mouth (2). To alleviate the pain as much as possible at home, you can try to:
1. Get the hot food or liquid out of their mouth and wiped off their face immediately to prevent serious injuries.
2. Give your child something cold to suck on to alleviate the pain, like ice or a popsicle.
3. Evaluate the severity of the burn and determine if your child needs medical attention. If medical treatment is required, take them to the emergency room as quickly as possible.
4. Have them drink something that will coat their mouth and grant another layer of relief, like milk.
5. Consult with your Doctor or Pediatrician to see whether they require an anti-inflammatory.
So be careful while you have a burnt tongue or feel like you have damaged the roof of your mouth – if it feels like your taste buds have gone, don't worry! It's known that they, in fact, do grow back. While your tongue is healing, make sure you don't eat anything too salty or spicy as this can inflame your tongue further. If your tongue does not heal after a week after trying these home remedies, do go and see a doctor.
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1. OUH NHS: https://www.ouh.nhs.uk/patient-guide/leaflets/files/110407burningmouth.pdf
2. Dentistry for Children and Adolescents: https://www.smilekidz.com/blog/2017/02/6-steps-to-sooth-your-child%25e2%2580%2599s-burned-tongue-or-mouth