Do you feel like your tongue has been scalded by hot coffee even though you haven’t had any? If so, you may have what is referred to as burning mouth syndrome (BMS). There are several causes for this sensation and it can vary from your gums and tongue to the palate and other areas of your mouth. It’s difficult to pinpoint why this happens as individuals can go through more than one particular cause at any given point. If you’re experiencing a discomfort similar to this, it’s in your best interest to consult your Brampton family dental clinic to figure out what BMS is and exactly why you’re suffering the symptoms. Here’s what you need to know about the condition.
Burning Mouth Syndrome: What You Should Know
What is burning mouth syndrome?
It’s a complex and painful condition described as a tingling, scalding or burning sensation in the mouth which may be persistent for months or even longer. The pain is often accompanied by an altered taste and a dry mouth. The discomfort affects the tongue, lips, inside of the cheeks, the roof of the mouth and the gums. It generally appears all of a sudden and gradually develops over time. Unfortunately, the specific reason for its cause is still not understood which makes the treatment all the more challenging.
Who does it affect?
Research has shown anywhere between 0.75 to 15% of the population gets affected. However, it’s most commonly found in adults over the age of 60 and is five times more likely to appear in women than men.
What are its symptoms?
The symptoms of BMS include:
- Loss of taste
- Increased thirst with the dry mouth sensation
- Numbness, stinging or tingling in the mouth
The discomfort caused by burning mouth syndrome typically has different patterns. It might:
- Come and go
- Start as soon as you’ve woken up and last throughout the day
- Occur daily, with slight discomfort as soon as you wake up and becomes worse as the day passes by
It doesn’t matter which kind of discomfort you have, BMS could last for months, or in certain cases, years. In very rare cases, the symptoms gradually diminish and fade altogether on their own. Some patients have experienced temporary relief while drinking and eating.
How is it caused?
Burning mouth syndrome can broadly be classified into two types, primary and secondary.
Primary Syndrome – When no lab or critical abnormalities can be found, the condition is referred to as primary burning mouth syndrome. It is related to issues with the sensory and taste nerves of the central or peripheral nervous system.
Secondary Syndrome – Sometimes it can be caused by medical conditions. In such cases, it’s referred to as secondary burning mouth syndrome. Some underlying issues which might be linked to BMS include:
- Nutritional deficiencies, like a lack of zinc, folate (vitamin B-9), iron, riboflavin (vitamin B-2), thiamin (vitamin B-1), cobalamin (vitamin B-12) and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6)
- Xerostomia or dry mouth which can be caused by various medications, health-related problems, the side effects of cancer treatment and issues with how the salivary gland functions
- Allergic reactions to different foods, additives or flavourings added in them, dental-work substances, dyes and fragrances
- Oral conditions such as fungal infection, a condition called geographic tongue which gives it a map-like appearance to the tongue, and oral lichen planus
- Medications for high blood pressure
- Oral habits such as teeth grinding, biting the tip of the tongue and tongue thrusting
- Excessive irritation in the mouth resulting in overbrushing of the tongue, overusing mouthwashes, using abrasive toothpaste and drinking liquids which are high in acidity
- Various psychological factors such as stress, depression or anxiety
What are the ways of diagnosing BMS?
There’s no particular way of determining whether someone has burning mouth syndrome or not. Instead, the doctor performs tests as necessary to rule out other problems before diagnosing it as BMS. Your dentist or doctor will most likely:
- Examine your mouth
- Review your complete medical history and any medications you may be on
- As you to describe your oral care routine, habits and symptoms you’re facing.
Additionally, he/she might perform a few general tests in search of signs related to other conditions. These tests may include:
- Gastric reflux examinations
- Blood tests
- Allergy tests
- Oral biopsies or cultures
- Salivary measurements
- Medication adjustments
- Psychological questionnaires
People suffering from burning mouth syndrome can experience a bit of improvement in a few weeks time since the start of their treatment. However, those suffering from chronic BMS can only hope to stabilize and manage the symptoms. Though the signs can spontaneously disappear, it rarely happens. There is also no direct link between burning mouth syndrome and oral cancer. If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, contact your dental clinic in Brampton to find the underlying cause and a treatment program which can bring some relief.