Treating an Oral Mucosal Burn Caused by a Hot Drink

A warm drink is often comforting and quite enjoyable. Many of us enjoy it daily, whether it’s a quick grab on the go or something to sit with and relax. But what happens when you sip something hot, and it burns the roof of your mouth? We have all experienced this at one time or another. While it is dreadful and unpleasant, it’s not usually serious. Let’s dig into what you should know about an oral mucosal burn and our secret to helping it heal faster.

Key takeaways:

What is an oral mucosal burn?

Oral mucosa is the moist tissue that covers the entire oral cavity. Mucosal tissue is relatively thin and prone to trauma. This is why hot food or drinks can scald or burn parts of the mouth. Although it hurts, most oral burns are minor and only involve the top layer of tissue.

Superficial oral burns are classified as erosions since the lesion involves a partial loss of the outer layer of oral tissue. Superficial burns are also shallow and heal quicker. Oral burns are often on the hard palate or roof of the mouth.

Symptoms of an oral mucosal burn include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Irritation
  • Lower or lost sense of taste

Healing an oral mucosal burn

Most oral mucosal burns are usually mild, with a shorter healing time than other skin areas. Oral mucosal burns are usually self-limiting and are completely healed in less than two weeks. However, burns are painful, and we want to heal them as quickly as possible.

Here are some steps that may help your oral mucosa burn heal faster.

What to do right after a burn

It’s important to treat a burn quickly. Right after you experience a burn, try these things to help reduce the pain:

  • Cooling. Sip on cool water or sick on ice to cool the burn area.
  • Pain relief. Apply over-the-counter topical pain reliever.
  • Don't touch it. Avoid touching the burned area with your finger. After a burn, it is tempting to check out the area to see the damage. While evaluating the burn is normal, touching the wound may introduce more bacteria and slow healing. So, try to resist that urge as much as possible.

At-home remedies

Burns in the mouth usually do not require medical treatment, so treating them yourself is fairly easy. Here are some common treatments you can do at home.

  • Maintain home care. Secondary infections are rare in mucosal wounds, but keeping the area clean is crucial. Oral burns are painful, and skipping out on your oral care routine may be tempting until it has healed, but healthy tissue heals faster than unhealthy tissue. So, make sure to maintain a good oral care routine while your mouth continues healing.
  • Adapt your diet. Sipping on drinks that are thicker, like milk or milkshakes, can coat the scorched area to offer temporary relief. Foods that are softer and easier to chew are less likely to bump the burned area and cause pain. Try yogurt, ice cream, cottage cheese, pudding, applesauce, or popsicles. The natural antioxidants in yogurt and cottage cheese are a bonus that may help your mouth heal faster.
  • Use over-the-counter pain relievers. Medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help reduce pain and decrease inflammation during healing. Topical benzocaine, known as Orajel, can temporarily numb the area. Be sure to read and follow the directions on any medications you use.
  • Rinse with a saltwater solution. Studies show rinsing with a saltwater solution may help promote healing and speed up the healing process. Add one teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water to make the saltwater rinse. Use the solution 2–3 times daily for 30–60 seconds until the burn has healed.

Natural remedies for oral mucosal burn

Although the tissue in the mouth usually heals without much treatment, wouldn’t it be nice if there were natural remedies that could help a burn heal faster? Good news — there are!

A 2021 study on ulcers in the mouth suggests some natural extracts may help promote quicker healing. This study identified seven extracts that had positive effects on oral wounds. Let’s see what they are:

Extract nameScientific nameComponents in mucosal healing
Jasmine extractJasminum grandiflorum
  • Antibacterial activity
  • Phenolic compounds that act as powerful antioxidants
  • Tannins that act as anti-inflammatories and promote healing
HyacinthBletilla striata
  • Increases healing speed
  • Helps restore skin thickness in wounded area
Mistletoe fig extractFicus deltoidea
  • Accelerates oral healing process
  • May be useful as therapeutic oral ulcer healing agent
Tumeric extractCurcuma longa
  • Enhances wound healing of ulcer
  • Strong antioxidants
  • Anti-inflammatory actions
  • Pain-relief properties
Urucum extractBixa orellana
  • Antimicrobial properties
  • Antioxidant activities
  • Enhances wound healing
Chamomile extractChamomilla recutita
  • Significantly reduces healing time
  • Reduces pain
  • Soothes burning sensation
Banana extractMusa acuminate
  • Increases healing speed
  • Contains cells that help clean wound debris
  • Anti-inflammatory effects

Components of seven extracts that may speed up healing of an oral mucosal burn.

What to avoid while healing

As an oral mucosal burn heals, here are some things to avoid:

  • Acidic foods like tomatoes, fruits, or orange juice
  • Foods that are crunchy or hard to chew
  • Hot foods or drinks
  • Foods high in salt
  • Spicy foods
  • Mint toothpaste or gum

These items can irritate the burned area and cause additional pain.

How long does it take to heal a burn in the roof of my mouth?

We have all asked this question when we have that nagging burn. Not only does it hurt, but sometimes it seems to take forever.

Most burns in the mouth will heal within a week. However, more severe burns may last up to 2 weeks. Using one of our tips mentioned above may also help speed up the healing process.

When to see your dentist

Burns happen. They are usually minor and will self-limit in a short time. Major burns from eating or drinking are rare. If you feel a burn has persisted too long without healing, it may be time to visit your dentist.

The roof of the mouth is also prone to other trauma as well. So, if you have pain in the roof of your mouth that isn’t from a burn, there may be another explanation. Your dental office can help uncover the mystery of why the roof of your mouth is hurting and help determine if treatment is needed.

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