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Burning Mouth Syndrome
Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a painful,
frustrating condition often described as a scalding sensation in the tongue,
lips, palate, or throughout the mouth. Although BMS can affect anyone, it
occurs most commonly in middle-aged or older women.
BMS often occurs with a range of medical and
dental conditions, from nutritional deficiencies and menopause to dry mouth
and allergies. But their connection is unclear, and the exact cause of
burning mouth syndrome cannot always be identified with certainty.
Moderate to severe burning in the
mouth is the main symptom of BMS and can persist for months or
years. For many people, the burning sensation begins in late
morning, builds to a peak by evening, and often subsides at
night. Some feel constant pain; for others, pain comes and goes.
Anxiety and depression are common in people with burning mouth
syndrome and may result from their chronic pain.
Other symptoms of BMS include:
There are a number of possible
causes of burning mouth syndrome, including:
damage to nerves that control
pain and taste
dry mouth, which can be caused
by many medicines and disorders such as Sjögren’s syndrome
oral candidiasis, a fungal
infection in the mouth
poorly-fitting dentures or
allergies to denture materials
anxiety and depression.
In some people, burning mouth
syndrome may have more than one cause. But for many, the exact
cause of their symptoms cannot be found.
A review of your medical history, a
thorough oral examination, and a general medical examination may
help identify the source of your burning mouth. Tests may
blood work to look for
infection, nutritional deficiencies, and disorders
associated with BMS such as diabetes or thyroid problems
oral swab to check for oral
allergy testing for denture
materials, certain foods, or other substances that may be
causing your symptoms.
Treatment should be tailored to
your individual needs. Depending on the cause of your BMS
symptoms, possible treatments may include:
adjusting or replacing
treating existing disorders
such as diabetes, Sjögren’s syndrome, or a thyroid problem
to improve burning mouth symptoms
recommending supplements for
switching medicine, where
possible, if a drug you are taking is causing your burning
prescribing medications to
When no underlying cause can be
found, treatment is aimed at the symptoms to try to reduce the
pain associated with burning mouth syndrome.
You can also try these self-care tips to help
ease the pain of burning mouth syndrome.
Sip water frequently.
Suck on ice chips.
Avoid irritating substances like hot, spicy
foods; mouthwashes that contain alcohol; and products high in acid, like
citrus fruits and juices.
Chew sugarless gum.
Brush your teeth/dentures with baking soda
Avoid alcohol and tobacco products.
Talk with your dentist and doctor about other
possible steps you can take to minimize the problems associated with burning