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My Mouth Is Burning! What is Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a complex condition characterized by a burning, painful or tingling sensation in the mouth in the absence of disease which is often accompanied by a sensation of dry mouth (also known as xerostomia). It commonly affects the tongue, and individuals with burning mouth syndrome may complain that their mouths feel scalded or that their sense of taste is altered (dysguesia). It may also involve the palate, lips and gums (gingiva). Burning mouth syndrome is often classified as primary or secondary burning mouth syndrome.

Primary burning mouth syndrome presents in the absence of systemic disease, while secondary burning mouth syndrome is often a result of an underlying medical condition. Treating the underlying medical condition usually resolves the symptoms of secondary burning mouth syndrome.

How often does it last?

Burning mouth syndrome differs amongst individuals. For some people, it may lasts for a few months, for others it may last a few years. It may also change in symptoms and severity over time.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Who does burning mouth syndrome affect?

Burning mouth syndrome can affect anyone, but it is more commonly seen in women.

How is it diagnosed?

Burning mouth syndrome is not always easily diagnosed, and thus your dentist or primary care physician may refer you to an orofacial pain focused dentist who has additional experience and knowledge in treating and diagnosing burning mouth syndrome. An orofacial pain dentist may order tests including blood tests, oral swabs to rule out infections, allergy tests and imaging.

Why do people get burning mouth syndrome?

We don’t completely understand burning mouth syndrome or its etiology; however, several theories have been postulated. Burning mouth syndrome occurs more commonly in post-menapausal women, and thus, theorists have proposed that it may be related to a reduction in estrogen or progesterone. Nonetheless, this theory hasn’t been proven. Burning mouth syndrome appears to be associated with anxiety, depression and stress, but the exact link has not been established. Additionally, one theory suggests burning mouth syndrome may be related to autoimmunity.

What are some at home remedies?

Of course the first step to determining the appropriate treatment for burning mouth syndrome is distinguishing burning mouth syndrome from other conditions that may also result in a burning sensation. In addition to medications that an orofacial pain focused dentist will prescribe you, following some of these tips my help alleviate some of your symptoms:

  • Avoid acidic and spicy foods

  • Keep your mouth moisturized by hydrating with water and/or rubbing olive oil on your oral tissues

  • Avoid mint flavored products

  • Avoid alcohol including mouthwashes that contain alcohol

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