Burning Mouth Syndrome

In burning mouth syndrome, burning sensation can occur in the tongue, lips, palate or even in the floor of the mouth.

In burning mouth syndrome, burning sensation can occur in the tongue, lips, palate or even in the floor of the mouth. This sensation is created when the sensations of taste and temperature are transferred to the brain by the nerves in a different way than usual so that they are not properly understood and cause pain or burning. The areas of the mouth that burn, when we actually touch them are not hot and most of the time there is no wound or red area.

Other symptoms may include numbness or pain in the mouth or the tip of the tongue, metal or bitter taste or dry mouth. The syndrome is often called neuropathic pain, as it occurs when there is damage to the nerves.

Often the syndrome occurs in middle age and older women and the symptoms appear gently in the morning, they peak in the afternoon and disappear in the evening. In some people the burning sensation is constant and in others, we notice remissions and exacerbations.

What causes the syndrome?

It is not known exactly what is causing the syndrome, but the following are suggested as possible causes:

  • Hormonal level changes
  • Dry mouth, which can be caused by drugs and by the presence of diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome. Deficiency in  vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron
  • Oral candidiasis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Stress, anxiety or depression
  • Immune system problems
  • Damage to the nerves that control the sensation of pain and taste
  • Reaction to some types of toothpaste or mouthwash
  • Damaged dentures or allergy in their materials
  • Menopause
  • Most of the times, the combination of two or more of the above causes a headache.

Treatment:

Depending on the established cause of the syndrome, the possible modes of treatment may be:

  • The construction of a new denture made of other material
  • The treatment of diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome or a thyroid disorder
  • Taking supplements in case of  vitamin deficiency
  • Symptomatic drug-induced change in medication for elimination, candidiasis, dry mouth, pain or anxiety and depression

Sources:

  • NIH, National Institute of dental and craniofacial research (http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/)
  • British dental health foundation (www.dentalhealth.org)

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