It’s happened to the best of us at one time or another: We know that we should probably wait for that hot pizza to cool down before taking a bite, but it just looks so good. Next thing you know – yow! The result is searing pain from a burned tongue, a burned mouth, and sometimes even burned gums.
The next time you find yourself in this embarrassing situation, take heart. There are a number of things you can do to provide immediate relief for the pain and get your burned mouth back to feeling its best. Here are tips from dentists to help you heal and prevent such a burn in the future.
Top Dentist Tips for a Burned Tongue or Mouth
The damage is done – the too-hot food has been consumed, and your burned mouth is in pain. Now what? According to Hadie Rifai, DDS, a dentist with the Cleveland Clinic, step one is to get something cool in your mouth to relieve the pain. “Suck on an ice cube or a frozen Popsicle to help alleviate the burning sensation,” he says. Next, Dr. Rifai says, it’s a good idea to coat your burned tongue or mouth with something soothing that provides another layer of relief. Milk is an excellent choice because of its coating action.
Once you’ve taken these steps for immediate relief, it’s time to turn to over-the-counter medications to directly treat the burned tongue and mouth. “Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or other pain medicine are all fine choices,” says Steve Krendl, DDS, of Hopewell Dental Care in New Jersey. “A product called Orabase that acts as a film to cover and soothe the area temporarily can be used.”
As your burned mouth begins to heal, you want to steer clear of certain foods that could make the pain worse. Rifai suggests that you “avoid sharp, crunchy foods or foods that may be spicy or contain citrus and could exacerbate the lesion.”
Also, there are a few simple strategies that can help speed healing as you wait for the hurt to subside. “A remedy is to squeeze a 1,000 IU vitamin E capsule over the burn; it helps to regenerate healthy skin and tissue,” says Shila Yazdani, DDS, a cosmetic dentistry specialist in the Washington, D.C., area. Above all, resist touching the burned area. “Keep it clean, brush your teeth, and give it time to heal,” she adds. “Your body is remarkably capable of fixing itself.”
If despite all your efforts, the burn or pain persists for seven days or more or worsens, Rifai suggests that you seek medical attention.
Preventing Future Burns
To avoid a burned tongue or mouth in the future, dentists say that the best strategy is simply to use common sense, especially when foods and beverages look piping hot or come straight from the stove top or oven. And be extra careful with hot drinks and hot foods, says Aurelio Alonso, DDS, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine. “Small sips or small bites may prevent you from getting larger burns,” he notes.