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Burning Mouth Syndrome -- What Is It?

What is burning mouth syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome sounds exactly like what it is — a painful, even debilitating burning or scalding sensation with spontaneous onset affecting the soft tissues of the mouth. This can include the tongue, lips, inside cheek area, gums, and roof of the mouth. Burning mouth syndrome affects less than 1% of the population and is most common in middle-aged women. Burning mouth syndrome can make even simple daily activities such as talking and eating extremely difficult. Other names for burning mouth syndrome include scalded mouth syndrome, burning tongue syndrome, burning lips syndrome, glossodynia, and stomatodynia.

What are the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome?

The symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, but include:

- Loss of taste - Feeling as if the entire mouth has been scalded by a hot food or beverage - Sensation of dry mouth - Sore mouth - Increased thirst - Mouth pain that worsens as the day passes

What causes burning mouth syndrome?

Because it is considered fairly unusual and is not fatal, there has been little research done on burning mouth syndrome, and at this time, there is no cure. It is generally believed that burning mouth syndrome occurs most often as a result of dysfunction in parts of the nervous system which control sensation in the mouth. Other causes can include hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies, GERD, dry mouth, oral fungal infections, and psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression. Fortunately, if you are experiencing burning mouth syndrome, working closely with your health care provider can usually lead to relief.

How is burning mouth syndrome treated?

The type of treatment depends solely on whether a specific cause can be found. Treatments can include changes in diet to address nutritional deficiencies, switching medications if necessary, treating thyroid problems or other hormonal imbalances, prescribing medications to control pain from nerve damage, moderate mood disorders, or treat oral fungal infections. If no cause can be found, symptomatic relief is the best option. The following tips may assist with self care:

- Sip water frequently - Suck on ice chips - Avoid irritating substances like hot, spicy foods; mouthwashes that contain alcohol; and products high in acid, like citrus fruits and juices - Chew sugarless gum - Brush your teeth/dentures with baking soda and water - Avoid alcohol and tobacco products

If you are experiencing the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome, give Dr. Kotre’s Ann Arbor dental practice a call at 734-677-2156. It is important to find out if there is an underlying cause to the pain so an effective treatment can be prescribed.


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