Authored by paulking

About Burning Mouth Syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome isn't life-threatening, but it can be life-altering. Know the symptoms and get tips for managing this frustrating condition.

Burning mouth syndrome is painful and mysterious. It causes burning and often a bitter, salty, or metallic taste in the mouth when nothing is there. Burning mouth syndrome also perplexes doctors. The exam of the mouth is usually normal. The syndrome is what doctors call a diagnosis of exclusion. It is considered only after other more common diagnoses are knocked off the list. The exhaustive workup could take months, but when the diagnosis is finally made, those who have this syndrome may find some solace. Now there's a name attached to their symptoms. With the right treatment plus self-care, burning mouth syndrome can usually be managed.

What are the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome? The main symptom is daily burning pain in the front part of the mouth, around the tip of the tongue, and over the inner lower lip. The burning sensation may also spread along your gums and on the roof of the mouth. It may be linked with a sore throat. Other symptoms include dry mouth, a bitter or metallic taste, or a weak sense of taste. These symptoms may start out as mild in the morning and get worse throughout the day, then subside in the evening. Symptoms could worsen or improve with food.

The pain can be as severe as a toothache. Some people have the pain daily for years. In others, symptoms stop suddenly without reason.

What causes burning mouth syndrome? Ongoing research has linked burning mouth syndrome to autoimmune disease and hormonal change. For instance, the syndrome is more common in women after menopause. Another theory points to overstimulation of the nerves that supply the mouth. Acid reflux, nutritional deficiencies, and an oral infection called thrush are also strongly related. When an underlying medical condition, such as one of these, is linked to symptoms, the condition is called secondary burning mouth syndrome.

When no underlying problems are found, its called primary burning mouth syndrome, and may be harder to treat.

What can I expect during the doctor or dental visit for burning mouth syndrome? A doctor or dentist may be able to treat burning mouth syndrome.

Your doctor will ask you to describe your symptoms, when they began, and what relieves them. He or she will also review your medications to determine whether symptoms are related to side effects of these medicines. For example, a type of blood pressure medicine called ACE inhibitors can cause a burning sensation in the mouth. Your doctor may do certain tests, such as:

Blood tests to check for nutritional deficiencies
A throat and mouth culture to look for an infection

Your doctor or dentist may ask you if you tend to grind your teeth at night and about which toothpaste and other oral products you use. You may benefit from a dental exam in which the dentist can check for and remove any sharp or broken teeth or dentures that may be irritating the mouth.

How is burning mouth syndrome treated? Doctors will treat any underlying condition or change medications that might be causing symptoms. If symptoms cannot be explained by another health problem, your doctor may try:

Medications. Tricyclic antidepressants and anti-seizure medications are known to help with nerve pain. Some doctors use clonazepam, a medication to treat certain types of seizures and panic attacks. None of these medicines have FDA approval for this use, though. Alphalipoic acid, an antioxidant, is effective in some people with burning mouth syndrome.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of therapy has been shown to help people with chronic pain conditions, including burning mouth syndrome. With CBT, you learn ways to think and act in response to pain to help you cope.

What are some self-care tips for burning mouth syndrome? Spend time identifying triggers, such as foods or beverages that set off symptoms, and avoid them. The following tips may help:

Avoid spicy foods and acidic beverages such as alcohol-containing drinks, fruit juices, soft drinks, and coffee.
Avoid tobacco products.
Consider changing your dental care products. Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol and only use toothpaste with the ADA (American Dental Association) Seal of Acceptance.
Use salivation replacement products if your doctor or dentist has told you that you have dry mouth.
Sip on water frequently or suck on ice chips.

Some people find comfort when doctors finally arrive at a diagnosis. One study showed that the average time from the start of symptoms to diagnosis was three years and took several doctors or dentists to finally decide on burning mouth syndrome. Patience and perseverance will carry you through the diagnostic process. Flexibility and a willingness to try different approaches will also help you cope while finding the right treatment. Ressource:

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