Burning Mouth Syndrome: Causes and Treatment

burning mouth syndrome

Do you feel a chronic burning sensation in your mouth?

This can be due to the nerves in your tongue failing to send the right message to your brain regarding temperature and taste.

There will be no visible symptoms such as hot and red tongue, neither any soreness.

However, your lips, roof of the mouth, cheeks, gums and tongue will all have a burning sensation.

This syndrome can last for quite a while coming chronic.

Even if it disappears, it is recurrent and may appear again.

This article discusses its causes, symptoms and treatment to help soothe your mouth from this condition.

burning mouth syndrome causes

Causes

Burning Mouth Syndrome BMS can happen due to unknown reasons.

Hence, there is no known cause.

However, tests may help diagnose whether the condition is primary or secondary.

Primary Burning Mouth Syndrome

Primary BMS or idiopathic burning mouth syndrome occurs when the doctors and lab tests cannot identify the cause behind the medical condition.

There could be a relation between sensory nerves in the peripheral and central nervous systems and taste.

Hence, when there is any damage to nerves and the brain cannot fully grasp the taste and temperature it can in return result in a sensation of burning and chronic pain.

Therefore, BMS is also called neuropathic pain.

Since the exact cause is not identifiable, your doctor will conduct tests such as swab tests, test for allergies, salivary flow tests and blood tests.

This will give them an idea about the underlying cause.

If there is none, then the condition will remain Primary BMS.

However, if there is one, then it will become Secondary BMS.

secondary BMS

Secondary Burning Mouth Syndrome

Your doctors diagnose a secondary BMS when the underlying cause behind the burning sensation is known.

These are either diseases, deficiencies, reactions or habits.

  • Diseases That Cause Secondary BMS

GERD or acid reflux can be behind this burning sensation.

The highly acidic stomach acid comes into your mouth due to acid reflux.

It can leave a stinging sensation behind especially if you regularly get acid reflux.

Similarly, dry mouth is a condition whereby the salivary glands do not produce enough saliva.

Hence, your mouth is no longer moist which can lead to the accumulation of bacteria and a burning feeling.

It can occur because of medication side effects and other treatments.

Endocrine disorders can also result in the syndrome.

These include diabetes and hypothyroidism.

Taking medicines for these diseases or for high blood pressure can become a cause too.

Besides other health conditions, oral conditions are responsible for it too.

These include oral thrush (fungal infection), geographic tongue, tingling tongue,  or oral lichen planus.

  • Deficiencies

What vitamin deficiency causes burning mouth syndrome?

Vitamin B-1, B-2, B-6, B-9 and B-12.

These are thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, folate, and cobalamin.

Besides vitamins, there are also other nutritional deficiencies that can result in the syndrome.

A lack of iron and zinc contributes to it too.

  •  Habits and Allergies

Certain oral habits such as biting your tongue, teeth grinding and tongue thrust are responsible for it.

Moreover, you can be allergic to certain foods such as fragrances, dyes, flavorings and additives.

Furthermore, your mouth may irritate because of your oral habits.

These include brushing aggressively, using abrasive toothpaste or using mouthwash way too often.

Drinking acidic beverages is another cause.

So are psychological factors such as depression, anxiety and stress.

Also, a woman going through perimenopause or postmenopause is more likely to get it.

This is because there is a link between dropping estrogen levels and BMS.

Hence, these hormonal imbalances will cause your tongue to burn.

Around 18 to 33 percent of women in that postmenopausal stage can get it.

Also, people who have had recent dental work can be allergic to some dental material.

Hence, they are also at risk.

Along with people who have chronic illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease and autoimmune disorder.

But how does a burning mouth feel?

Let’s find out below!

BMS symptoms

Burning Mouth Syndrome Symptoms

As the name suggests, the main symptom is a recurrent or chronic burning sensation in the mouth.

It is the same sensation you will after you scald your mouth.

However, other than the tongue, it is also present on your lips, palate, throat, gums and entire mouth.

There will be a loss of taste or an unpleasant one.

It can be metallic and bitter.

Other symptoms of burning mouth syndrome include that your mouth will feel dry and your tongue and mouth will feel numb.

It may also tingle or sting.

It will start as soon as you wake up.

However, the discomfort can worsen as the day goes by.

The intensity may also remain the same the entire day.

Otherwise, it can come and go throughout the day.

Due to this, you will have trouble sleeping and eating.

That can cause you stress, depression and anxiety.

This condition can last for years or may end after a few months.

Though, you may find some relief when you are eating and drinking.

It can also abruptly end on its own without any treatment.

However, you should seek proper medical help if it persists for a long time.

diagnosing BMS

Diagnosing Your Condition

BMS can be a symptom of some other disease.

Moreover, as one test cannot determine its presence, your doctor will check your history and examine your mouth to rule out other conditions first.

Furthermore, they will ask you to get tests to help in the exact diagnosis.

These include allergy tests to check for food allergens.

The Gastric Reflux test determines if you have acid reflux or GERD.

They will also take a blood test to check for your immune and thyroid function.

Taking salivary measurements helps to analyze if you have less salivary flow.

Moreover, oral biopsies will determine the presence of viral, fungal and bacterial infections.

MRI, CT Scan or X-ray will be taken if tests cannot identify your problem.

Your doctor may also look into your medicines to check if any of these are causing you the problem.

If they do, then they will switch them with a similar alternative consulting your specialist.

In order to determine if mental health problems are causing you the problem, your doctor may recommend taking a psychological questionnaire too.

They may then refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist for further treatment.

If the test results show an underlying problem, it indicates Secondary BMS.

However, if they cannot draw a conclusion from the tests, then you suffer from Primary BMS.

burning mouth syndrome treatment

Burning Mouth Syndrome Treatment

The treatment is simple if you have Secondary BMS. Treating the underlying disease, infection or allergy.

Your doctor will recommend antibiotics or forbid you from taking what causes your allergies.

If you have a nutritional deficiency, they will give you supplements.

Therefore, you can easily treat it if there is a certain cause.

However, if you have Primary BMS then your doctor will try other treatments.

There is no guarantee that the treatment will work on your condition.

Hence, be patient and let your doctor work with you to try to find the best solution.

They can give you oral rinses to clean your mouth.

Furthermore, if they doubt sensory nerves are causing the issue, then they can recommend medicines that block the nerve pain.

If your mouth is dry they can prescribe saliva stimulants and saliva replacements to keep it moist.

Pain relievers such as capsaicin can help reduce the burning and tingling sensation.

They can recommend you an anticonvulsant medicine to soothe your pain.

Antidepressants can help to deal with depression and reduce its symptoms.

Moreover, cognitive behavioral therapy can help you:

  • cope with the pain
  • manage depression and anxiety with strategies

There is no way to prevent this syndrome as it can come and go on its own.

Though you can avoid certain triggers that may exacerbate the pain.

Don’t smoke, forgo acidic foods, drink less carbonated beverages and eat less spicy food.

Furthermore, avoid stress.

You can also implement some changes and use remedies to heal your discomfort.

BMS remedies

Remedies to Deal with the Discomfort

What You Should Avoid

Do not smoke or chew any tobacco products.

Tobacco isn’t great for your overall health and also oral health.

Hence, do not increase your symptoms by using it.

Other things you should religiously avoid are acidic and spicy foods.

Acidic foods also include drinks like soda, coffee, orange juice and tomato juice.

Though lemon, lime and acidic fruits should also be avoided.

Do not use products that contain cinammon or mint because of their string flavoring.

The same goes for toothpaste.

Choose those that have mild flavoring or absolutely no flavors.

Avoid alcohol too.

Products containing alcohol can damage the inner lining of the mouth.

Hence, avoid all of these foods as they will only exacerbate your symptoms.

Instead do this!

Changes to Adopt 

Keep sucking on ice and drinking plenty of water.

This helps to keep your mouth moist and regulates the salivary flow.

Also reduce your stress by walking daily.

Interact with your peers and indulge in hobbies that you no longer pursue.

Make exercise a daily routine and do not skip it.

Finally, 

If your have burning mouth syndrome then start making changes in your lifestyle.

It will help ease the symptoms and make the condition bearable.

 

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