Does your mouth burn all of sudden or continuously? Chances are you are going through burning mouth syndrome.
You will mostly feel this strong burning sensation on the tip of your tongue or on the palate.
Though, it can also be on your lips and on the front of your mouth.
Hence, it causes discomfort in the roof of your mouth, inside of cheeks and lips, as well as the tongue and gums.
Or it can also make your entire mouth uncomfortable.
It is hard to find out its exact cause though it may result from an illness, medication or dental work.
If you suffer from this syndrome chronically or recurrently, this article is for you.
Learn about the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome and how you can treat and cope with them.
Burning Mouth Syndrome Symptoms
The symptoms can differ for every person.
Though you may generally feel as if you have just had something hot like hot tea or soup that burnt your mouth.
Hence, the lingering burning sensation can last on several parts such as:
- Inside of cheeks
- Inside part of the lips
- Tip of the tongue
- Back of the throat
- The roof of the mouth (palate)
- Front of the mouth
This sensation results in difficulty while swallowing food.
Moreover, your tongue may feel numb or tingle once in a while.
You may also feel that there is a bad taste in your mouth such as that of metal or something bitter.
Hence, your thirst also increases.
The burning sensation may subside for a while when you eat or drink something.
It can come and go over the day.
However, this pain may also persist and get worse during the course of the day.
At times it may be bearable when you wake up and then become worse or stay consistently strongly and persist all day.
Though this syndrome does not visibly produce any physical symptoms or changes, it can last for a while.
There is no certain time for it to last, it can be between months or years.
Rarely, the symptoms may subside on their own.
Or they can at least become less severe and frequent.
Though, if it becomes unbearable you should not tolerate it on your own.
Rather, visit your dentist or doctor as soon as possible to work out its possible cause and solution.
This brings us to…
What Causes Burning Mouth Syndrome?
It is difficult to find the exact cause of BMS which is why it is categorized into two types.
- Primary BMS
- Secondary BMS
When your doctor cannot find the exact cause because the tests do not indicate any abnormality, it is Primary Burning Mouth Syndrome BMS.
Before that, they may suggest you get blood, allergy and salivary flow tests along with an oral swab.
Though if the tests are completely fine then they may think it relates to taste and sensory nerves.
These nerves of the central and peripheral nervous systems can detect pain and taste.
If there is any damage to them, then it can cause this burning sensation.
This is known as idiopathic burning mouth syndrome.
Secondary Burning Mouth Syndrome is when there is a certain cause behind it which is usually a medical condition.
Hence, it can be a symptom of these oral health problems and other medical conditions.
- Oral Conditions
Dry mouth results from certain medications and illnesses.
Such as cancer treatments or problems with the salivary gland.
It can lower the amount of saliva inside your mouth and cause a burning sensation.
- Allergies and Nutritional Deficiencies
This may be hinting towards an allergic reaction to food additives, food dyes, flavorings, substances used in dental work and fragrances.
Similarly, if you are not getting enough nutrition, then it can be a symptom of that too.
For instance lack of Vitamin B-1, Vitamin B-2, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-9, iron and zinc.
- Acid Reflux and Endocrine disorders
Plus, endocrine conditions such as diabetes or hypothyroidism may also result in BMS.
High blood pressure medicines can cause this sensation in the mouth as a side effect.
- Irritation in the Mouth
Your mouth may irritate usually because of brushing your tongue longer, drinking acidic beverages, using more than necessary mouthwash and brushing with an abrasive toothpaste.
- Unhealthy Oral Habits
Having unhealthy habits like teeth grinding, tongue thrusting as well as biting the tip of your tongue can result in this sensation if you regularly do them.
- Mental Health Problems
Mental health problems have a relation with oral health conditions.
Hence, depression, anxiety and stress can cause these problems too.
Women who are in the postmenopausal stage can get BMS.
In fact, 18 to 33 percent of them do get it.
This is because estrogen levels drop after menopause.
They result in a decrease in saliva production and leave a bad taste in the mouth as well as a burning sensation.
Hence, if you are a woman in the perimenopausal or post-menopausal stage, you are at a greater risk.
So are those who recently had an illness.
Though those with chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s diseases, fibromyalgia and other autoimmune disorders are also at risk.
People who recently had dental work and have food allergies can get it too.
It can result in lack of sleep, difficulty in eating and cause stress and depression.
Diagnosing the Problem
If the burning sensation persists in your mouth then it is time to visit your doctor.
They will first take your medical history and then conduct tests.
Then they will examine your mouth, look at your medications and ask about your oral health.
All of these will help them identify if it is Primary BMS or Secondary BMS.
This will check the salivary flow inside your mouth to see if it is because of a dry mouth.
It can check blood count, immunity, thyroid function, blood glucose level and more that could cause mouth discomfort.
An MRI or X-ray can help identify problems that lab tests may not be able to find.
They can help identify if you are allergic to dental work substances, foods or dyes.
A gastric reflux test finds out if you are suffering from GERD and acid reflux.
Your doctor may take a sample from your mouth to check for the presence of infection either viral, fungal or bacterial.
Furthermore, they may suggest you take a psychological questionnaire if you are having a hard time lately.
This can detect depression and anxiety which may cause you oral health problems.
Furthermore, they will see your medications if they are the cause of your problem.
If they find one which may cause it, they can adjust its dose or offer you a similar alternative.
They will offer different treatments according to Primary or Secondary BMS. More on that below!
Burning Mouth Syndrome Treatment
The cause is unknown in Primary BMS.
Hence, there is no certain way that can guarantee any treatment will be a success.
All you have is trial and error to see what works for you.
Though be patient, as it may take time before a treatment proves to be working.
The treatment aims to reduce the symptoms, hence, your doctor will suggest taking saliva replacements.
These oral rinses and saliva replacement products will help to increase your salivary flow.
If mental health problems are triggering this sensation then taking antidepressants may help.
Alongside you can try cognitive behavioral therapy which can help in coping with depression and anxiety.
Using capsaicin can be relieving.
It is a pain reliever that can ease the pain and burning sensation.
Furthermore, you can use lidocaine.
Nerve pain-blocking drugs and anticonvulsant medicines can also provide some relief.
However, if you have Secondary BMS, then you do know the cause behind it.
The solution lies in treating the cause.
If you have acid reflux then medicines that neutralize the acid in the stomach can help.
Getting supplements for vitamin deficiency can reduce the symptoms if you have a vitamin deficiency.
Similarly, treating mouth infections by taking antibiotics and dry mouth by taking a salivary stimulant can reduce this symptom as the underlying medical condition absolves.
Coping Through Lifestyle Changes
Carry on your treatment side by side but also implement some lifestyle changes that can help ease your symptoms.
- Not using alcohol or tobacco as they can cause irritation in the lining inside your mouth
- Drink lots of water and chew gum to decrease dry mouth
- Do not take acidic foods or spicy foods. These include coffee, tea, orange juice, lemon, sodas and spices.
- Do not consume cinnamon or mint as they can exacerbate the sensation.
- In fact, use toothpaste for sensitive teeth that do not contain any flavor.
- Decrease your stress by exercising, engaging in a new hobby and meeting with friends and family
You cannot prevent BMS as it happens all of a sudden and can remain a chronic pain.
However, by incorporating these changes you can at least limit the impact of the burning feeling on your well-being.
Hence, avoid all the harmful foods and beverages as they will cause your BMS to worsen.
Having Burning Mouth Syndrome is clearly an unpleasant feeling.
In order to have a better quality of life, do not keep living with it, rather visit your doctor soon for treatment.