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Burning Mouth Syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a painful, frustrating condition often described as a scalding sensation in the tongue, lips, palate, or throughout the mouth. BMS can affect anyone, but it occurs most commonly in middle-aged or older women.

BMS often occurs with a range of medical and dental conditions, from nutritional deficiencies, menopause to dry mouth and allergies.

Moderate to severe burning in the mouth is the main symptom of BMS and can persist for months or years. The burning sensation begins in late morning, builds to a peak by evening, and often subsides at night. Some feel constant pain; and for some, pain comes and goes. Anxiety and depression are common in people with burning mouth syndrome and may result from their chronic pain.

Other symptoms include:

  • tingling or numbness on the tip of the tongue or in the mouth
  • bitter or metallic changes in taste
  • dry or sore mouth.

Causes

  • damage to nerves that control pain and taste
  • hormonal changes
  • dry mouth, which can be caused by many medicines and disorders such as Sjögren’s syndrome or diabetes
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • oral candidiasis, a fungal infection in the mouth
  • acid reflux
  • poorly-fitting dentures or allergies to denture materials
  • anxiety and depression.

Treatment

Treatment should be tailored to your individual needs.

  • adjusting or replacing irritating dentures
  • treating existing disorders such as diabetes
  • recommending supplements for nutritional deficiencies
  • switching medicine, where possible, if a drug you are taking is causing your burning mouth
  • prescribing medications to relieve dry mouth
  • treat oral candidiasis
  • control pain from nerve damage
  • relieve anxiety and depression.