Imagine waking up, going about your day, and suddenly feeling like your tongue, lips and mouth are scalding. You didn’t burn your mouth on any hot liquids, but it certainly feels like it. Then, you notice numbness on the tip of your tongue and start tasting metal. This is a reality for the thousands of people who have burning mouth syndrome. Originally thought to have been caused by psychological issues like anxiety, burning mouth syndrome still baffles dentists and doctors with its varying nature. BMS is a chronic problem that most often occurs in middle-aged or older women. It can last for years and may either present as constant pain or come and go in cycles. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, BMS has a host of possible causes, including hormonal changes (such as during menopause), nutritional deficiencies, acid reflux, and damage to the nerves that control pain and taste.
Research has shown that many people with chronic BMS develop depression or anxiety disorders, which makes treatment and awareness even more important. Testing for BMS may include blood work and allergy testing. In some cases, patients develop BMS due to an allergic reaction to their denture materials. Once diagnosed, treatment varies depending on the patient’s symptoms. Examples include treating a corroborating disease such as diabetes; switching prescription medication; replacing dentures; prescribing nutritional supplements; and recommending medication to treat depression.
NIDCR also suggests several self-treatments to relieve the pain caused by BMS, such as drinking water frequently; avoiding acidic foods and mouthwashes with alcohol; chewing sugarless gum; sucking on ice chips; and brushing your teeth with baking soda and water. It is also important to avoid alcohol and tobacco.
If you suspect you may suffer from burning mouth syndrome, schedule an appointment with your True Care Advantage dentist immediately and work with him or her to relieve your symptoms. Your dentist can suggest alternate pain-management methods and help you determine a possible cause.