Burning Mouth Syndrome is the medical term for ongoing/recurrent burning in the mouth. This discomfort may affect the tongue, gums, lips, inside of your cheeks, palate or your whole mouth. The burning sensation can be severe. It is often described as a burning, scalding or tingling feeling in the mouth. Dry mouth or an altered taste in the mouth may also accompany the pain.
Burning mouth syndrome usually appears suddenly, but it can develop gradually over time. It occurs most commonly in women over the age of 30 and men over the age of 40. It is estimated to be 3x more frequent in women. BMS is very difficult to diagnose, and no specific treatment works for everyone.
First, we try to diagnose the cause of the burning mouth symptoms:
- Has anything changed recently? New toothpaste or mouthwash, dietary changes, new medical conditions or medications? Allergies? Recent stress?
- List of current medications (Tricyclic antidepressants, lithium, diuretics, and several high blood pressure medications can be associated with BMS)
- Intraoral soft tissue exam: any signs of oral pathology?
If we need to investigate further, we would then make a referral to an Oral Pathologist
- The specialist may do a salivary flow test, as well as a swab for candida (yeast).
- They may also elect to do bloodwork testing Iron, Zinc, Vitamins B1, B2, B6, B9, B12, Hemoglobin A1c (a measure of blood sugar control), thyroid, and for Sjogren’s Syndrome (autoimmune condition).
If the cause can be identified, we treat the cause and then re-evaluate. Often a cause cannot be identified, in which case we try to manage the symptoms with supplements, oral rinses, and medications if necessary.