Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a common, but complex problem that causes people to experience a burning or scalding pain on the lips and tongue (and sometimes throughout the mouth). There are often no visible signs of irritation, and the cause of the syndrome may be caused by the onset of menopause to vitamin deficiencies. Though members of both sexes are susceptible to BMS, it occurs more frequently in older women. BMS is not a form of nor can cause cancer.
There are many symptoms associated with BMS. The main symptom is a burning sensation , ranging from moderate to severe, in your mouth, throat, lips and tongue. Other symptoms include dry mouth, bitter or metallic tastes and other taste alterations. People with BMS often say the pain is gradual and spontaneous, intensifying as the day moves along. The discomfort and restlessness associated with BMS may cause mood changes, irritability, anxiety and depression.
The exact cause of BMS is difficult to determine. In 30% of the cases it is caused by existing conditions that affect the oral and systemic health. Some conditions include the onset of menopause, diabetes, nutrient deficiencies and complications to cancer therapy.
In a majority of cases, no specific diagnosis for the symptoms can be made. BMS symptoms may occur from dry mouth, tongue thrusting, teeth grinding, irritating or ill-fitting dentures, and thrush (a common fungal infection). Some research points to nerve disorders and damage; psychological factors, particularly depression and anxiety; allergies; acid reflux; and medications that cause dry mouth. It’s not unusual for a person suffering with BMS to have more than one cause attributed to the ailment or to have health care providers fail to find any cause at all.
Your dentist will begin by reviewing your medical history and asking you to describe the symptoms. Your dentist may look for oral causes by taking an oral swab or biopsy to check for thrush. But because BMS is caused by so many conditions, your dentist may refer you to a physician or specialist for other blood, allergy, liver or thyroid tests.
Treatment for BMS depends on the patient and the cause. For dry mouth, your dentist may prescribe a medicine that promotes the flow of saliva. Thrush may be treated with oral anti-fungal medications. If dentures are the culprit, your dentist can make adjustments sot they won’t irritate the mouth, or replace them with better fitting dentures. If your dentist determines that there are no oral conditions causing BMS he or she may refer you to your family physician or specialist.