Unable to have spicy food? Here is what your mouth has to say

Written by Dr. Apurva Chavan

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Dec 5, 2023

Written by Dr. Apurva Chavan

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Dec 5, 2023

Eating spicy food and being Indian go hand in hand. We love our chilies – be it fresh green chilies in our breakfast and red chilly powder in our curries. But what happens when you are unable to eat spicy food you once could. What is your mouth trying to tell you?

Here are some conditions that cause intolerance to spicy food 

You have oral ulcers/ stomatitis

Ulcers are small red swellings inside the mouth that can occur even on your lips. There are various causes for ulcers like stress, poor eating habits, acidity, etc. Certain diseases like herpes can also cause you to get ulcers. These prevent you from eating spicy food. Reduce stress, get good sleep, and have balanced meals to avoid ulcers.

You have a lichenoid/allergic reaction

Lichenoid reactions are flat red non-ulcerative patches on your soft tissues and are usually caused due to allergic reactions. This reaction could be due to a dental filling or new denture or could be due to some medications that you are taking. If it’s a new dental prosthesis eg. new dentures or braces that are troubling you, visit your dentist as soon as you can and get it fixed. Pricky prosthesis could irritate the soft tissues and eating anything spicy could give you burning sensations. If it is due to some medication, stop the medicine and ask your doctor for a suitable alternative.

You have oral thrush/yeast infection

Oral thrush, also called Oral candidiasis is a fungal infection causing white patches on your inner cheeks and tongue. It is usually seen in small babies or immunocompromised individuals. It is also seen in people on steroids for certain conditions like asthma. People taking steroids in the form of oral sprays for asthma are more prone to candidiasis. Keeping good oral hygiene is very important for people getting frequent oral candidiasis. Ask your doctor if your steroids can be reduced or replaced with suitable medications.

You have a vitamin deficiency

Vitamins and minerals are very important to maintain the healthy integrity of your oral tissues. Vitamin B12 is a very important vitamin with very few vegetarian food sources. It is available mostly in non-vegetarian foods. Hence vegetarians are more likely to feel spicy food sensitivity due to vitamin B12 deficiency. Take vitamin supplements and eat more greens.

You have dry mouth / Xerostomia

Dry mouth can be caused due to a variety of reasons ranging from medicines to blocked salivary ducts. Saliva has a protective effect on your teeth and tongue. Reduced levels of saliva cause not just increased levels of cavities and tongue sensitivity but also difficulty in eating and digesting food. Keep sipping water throughout the day to avoid mouth dryness. In certain cases, your dentists may prescribe some saliva replacements.

You might have precancerous lesions

If you are a tobacco/ gutka chewer/ smoker then you might have a precancerous lesion. Precancerous lesions like Oral submucous fibrosis cause a burning sensation throughout the mouth along with reduced mouth opening. Thick white patches present on the inner cheeks could also be Leukoplakia. All these conditions cause sensitivity to spicy minty food and are very likely to turn into cancer. Stop the habit immediately and talk to your dentist to prevent Cancer.

You might have cancer

If you have had tobacco – chewing or smoking and have had reduced mouth opening for a while along with any one of the precancerous lesions, chances of you having oral cancer are very high. India is the oral cancer capital of the world because of our supari/ mishri habit. Stop the habit immediately and seek medical care.

To prevent these things treat your mouth and body well. Your body is your temple and your mouth is its door. So keep your mouth clean by brushing regularly and flossing to avoid food accumulation of food in between your teeth. Visit your dentist regularly to not just treat dental problems but to nip them in the bud by catching them early.


  • Indian spices can be intolerant to some people.
  • Burning sensation and absolutely inability to eat spicy food can tell you more about the things happening in your mouth.
  • It could indicate vitamin deficiencies, ulcers, infections in the mouth, or even dry mouth.
  • People having a habit of smoking, tobacco chewing or arecanut chewing or even paan and gutka chewing habits could have early sings of cancer if they experience inability to have spicy food.
  • Pay attention to your oral health and visit a dentist to check any of these signs.
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Stay Informed, Smile On!

Author Bio: Dr. Apurva Chavan is a dentist by the day and a voracious reader and writer by the night. She loves to fix smiles and tries to keep all her procedures as pain free as possible. Equipped with over 5 years of experience she loves to not just treat her patients but also educate them about dental hygiene and appropriate maintanence routines. After a long day of preserving smiles she loves to curl up with a good book or pen down some of life’s musings. She strongly belives that learning never stops and likes to keep her self updates with all the latest dental news and research.

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