A hot pizza, a steaming cup of tea: some things are too good to resist – but these hot treats can also cause serious pain when they burn the roof of your mouth. An expert explains which measures can provide relief.
The ear, nose and throat doctor Dr. Micah Timen explains what you can do to get relief from a burnt palate in a recent article from the Cleveland Clinic (USA).
Usually heals on its own
Immediately after eating or drinking something hot, you may experience an unpleasant burning sensation or pain in the roof of your mouth. “Your palate is covered with a layer of soft tissue that contains a network of nerves that are sensitive to hot foods and drinks,” explains Dr. Timing. “A burning sensation in the mouth can be painful, but usually heals fairly well on its own.”
Home remedies for a burning sensation on the roof of the mouth
After a burn, the burned area may be tender and painful. These home remedies for burns can help you feel better:
Cold water or ice
First Commandment: Cool your mouth. It provides quick relief and can help minimize the damage.
“Swiping your mouth with cold water feels good and is a safe way to stop the burning sensation immediately,” advises Dr. Timing. “You can also put some ice cream in your mouth. Only use small amounts at a time, otherwise the ice cream could stick to the roof of your mouth.”
Who says a popsicle is just for a hot day? Popsicles are also great for a hot mouth. “Any type of frozen treat has the same cooling effect as cold water or ice,” says the ENT doctor.
Salt water rinse
Rinsing with warm salt water can help with a burn. “Salt has a drying effect on the tissue, which can help it heal a little quicker,” says Dr. Timing. “We don’t have any studies showing that salt water helps with mouth burns, but there’s no harm in trying it.”
For a salt water rinse, add half a teaspoon of salt to half a cup of warm water. Mix it, swish it in your mouth for 30 seconds and spit it out.
It’s worth trying to swish some cold milk in your mouth as long as you’re not allergic to dairy or lactose intolerant.
“Some people find that drinking milk cools their mouth after eating spicy food,” notes Dr. Timing. “It’s also a popular home remedy for sunburn, so it could also help with burning mouth.”
Rinse with peroxide and water
Diluted hydrogen peroxide is another good remedy for a burnt mouth. “Peroxide soothes mild irritation and kills germs,” explains Dr. Timing. “If your mouth still hurts after using cold water, diluted peroxide may provide additional relief.”
Use this remedy only once or twice after the initial burn, as using peroxide for a long period of time can damage your tooth enamel. And never use it at full strength – it’s far too strong for the tissues of your mouth and teeth. Instead, make a mixture that is half water and half peroxide.
Mouthwash for mouth pain
If you can’t handle the peroxide taste, go to the store and look for a mouthwash for a sore mouth. They usually contain some peroxide and flavoring to make them more palatable. “Follow the instructions on the package and be sure to avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol. “Alcohol can irritate the tissue in the mouth and delay healing,” says the doctor.
If all else fails, get a mouth gel that contains benzocaine. “A product containing benzocaine provides a temporary anesthetic effect,” explains Dr. Timing. “This is a safe option if you are in pain and other remedies are not enough.”
You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Although these medications will not help the burn heal faster, they may provide some relief if you are bothered by the pain.
Avoid certain foods and drinks
Avoid things that could make the pain worse, such as acidic drinks such as carbonated water, soda, coffee and wine, foods with sharp corners such as tortilla chips, hot foods or drinks, and spicy foods.
When to seek medical attention
Mouth burns are not usually an emergency, but some situations require professional treatment. In rare cases, drinking a hot liquid can cause epiglottitis, a serious condition that can block your airways. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you experience:
- Inability to swallow
- Severe sore throat
- Difficulty breathing
You should also seek medical attention immediately if your baby or child has burned their mouth, the burn is severe, you have burned the corners of your mouth, face or lips.
Time heals almost all wounds
A burn on the roof of your mouth is annoying, but the body usually does the healing for you. In the meantime, use some home remedies—and maybe try a frosty treat. (ad)