If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), there’s a chance that stomach acid could enter your mouth.

However, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, tongue and mouth irritations are among the less common symptoms of GERD.

So, if you’re experiencing a burning sensation on your tongue or in your mouth, it’s probably not caused by acid reflux.

That feeling likely has another cause, such as burning mouth syndrome (BMS), which is also called idiopathic glossopyrosis.

Keep reading to learn more about BMS — its symptoms and treatment — along with other conditions that might cause a burning tongue or mouth.

BMS is a recurring burning sensation in the mouth that doesn’t have an obvious cause.

It can affect the:

  • tongue
  • lips
  • palate (roof of your mouth)
  • gums
  • inside of your cheek

According to The Academy of Oral Medicine (AAOM), BMS affects about 2 percent of the population. It can occur in women and men, but women are seven times more likely than men to be diagnosed with BMS.

There’s currently no known cause for BMS. However, AAOM suggests that it may be a form of neuropathic pain.

Symptoms of burning mouth syndrome

If you have BMS, symptoms may include:

  • having a feeling in your mouth similar to an oral burn from hot food or a hot beverage
  • having a dry mouth
  • having a feeling in your mouth similar to a “crawling” sensation
  • having a bitter, sour, or metallic taste in your mouth
  • having difficulty tasting the flavors in your food

Treatment for burning mouth syndrome

If your healthcare provider can identify the cause of the burning sensation, treating that underlying condition will usually take care of the situation.

If your healthcare provider cannot determine the cause, they will prescribe treatments to help you manage the symptoms.

Treatment options may include:

In addition to BMS and physically burning the surface of your tongue with hot food or a hot beverage, the burning sensation in your mouth or on your tongue could be caused by:

  • an allergic reaction, which can include food and medication allergies
  • glossitis, which is a condition that causes your tongue to swell and to change in color and surface texture
  • thrush, which is an oral yeast infection
  • oral lichen planus, which is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the mucous membranes inside your mouth
  • dry mouth, which can often be the symptom of an underlying medical condition or a side effect of certain medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and diuretics
  • endocrine disorder, which can include hypothyroidism or diabetes
  • vitamin or mineral deficiency, which can include a lack of iron, folate, or vitamin B12

If you’re experiencing a burning sensation on your tongue or in your mouth, your healthcare provider may recommend avoiding:

  • acidic and spicy foods
  • beverages such as orange juice, tomato juice, coffee, and carbonated drinks
  • cocktails and other alcoholic beverages
  • tobacco products, if you smoke or use dip
  • products containing mint or cinnamon

The term “acid reflux tongue” refers to a burning sensation of the tongue that’s been attributed to GERD. However, this is an unlikely scenario.

A burning sensation on your tongue or in your mouth is more likely caused by another medical condition such as:

  • BMS
  • thrush
  • a vitamin or mineral deficiency
  • an allergic reaction

If you have a burning feeling on your tongue or in your mouth, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. They can make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment options to help you manage your symptoms.