Burning Mouth Syndrome

What is Burning Mouth Syndrome?

The term burning mouth syndrome is usually used as the medical term for chronic mouth burning without significant cause. This condition is mostly present in adults over 60 years of age and can appear suddenly or develop gradually over time. The pattern of symptoms varies between patients: it can occur every day as mild symptoms but become worse as the day progresses; it can start as soon as you wake up and last all day or it can come and go throughout the day.  The symptoms may last from a month to a year and suddenly disappear without treatment. It is important to note that burning mouth syndrome doesn’t cause any visible physical changes in your mouth. 

What is the primary Burning Mouth Syndrome?

This is not caused by any underlying condition. It is believed to be caused by damage to the nerves that control your taste and pain. Usually, no laboratory abnormalities or clinical presentations are identified. 

What is the secondary Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Secondary burning mouth syndrome occurs due to other underlying conditions such as dry mouth, allergies or reactions to food, lack of iron, zinc, folate, or vitamin B 1, 2, 6, 9, and 12. Oral conditions such as fungal infections or oral lichen planus can precipitate burning mouth syndrome as well. Chronic conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disease can also be a cause of this syndrome. Medications that treat hypertension have been known to exacerbate this condition. 

What are the symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome?

  • Loss of taste
  • Tingling or numbness in the mouth 
  • Bitter or metallic taste in the mouth
  • Dry mouth with increased thirst
  • Burning feeling in your lips, gums, throat, palate and whole mouth

How is Burning Mouth Syndrome diagnosed?

Your healthcare professional will mostly base their diagnosis on your history and symptoms. A different test can be ordered to rule out the different causes of this syndrome such as blood test, allergy test, and a tissue biopsy. Salivary measurements can also be done to confirm whether you have a decreased salivary flow. You can also be referred to a dentist who specialized in oral medicine or an ear, nose, and throat specialist. 

What are the differential diagnoses of Burning Mouth Syndrome?

  • Dry mouth
  • Oral candidiasis
  • Glossitis 

How is Burning Mouth Syndrome treated?

The treatment for this condition is dependent on whether you have primary or secondary burning mouth syndrome. Since the cause of primary burning mouth syndrome is not known as of now, the management of the condition is mostly symptomatic. Your healthcare professional can send oral lidocaine, saliva replacement products, nerve pain blockers, as well as capsaicin which is a pain reliever that comes from chili peppers. 

The treatment for secondary burning mouth syndrome depends on the underlying condition that’s causing your symptoms. Therefore, it is very important to identify the cause of the condition. If it is due to a lack of any vitamin or mineral, these can be supplemented. If it’s due to a medication reaction, then your healthcare professional might switch your medication to prevent symptoms from reoccurring. 

It is also recommended to avoid mouth irritants such as spicy or hot foods, alcohol, tobacco, acidic juices or fruits and mouthwashes that contain alcohol. Cold beverages, ice cream, chewing sugarless gum, and eating ice chips can help you improve the burning sensation. For more information about this disorder visit the American Academy of Oral Medicine website.

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