Your Total Health
Burning Mouth Syndrome
Review Date: 06-06-2007
Reviewed By: Andrew M. Sicklick, D.D.S.

Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) causes pain that occurs on the tongue, lips or other areas of the mouth. This symptom is often intense, and patients may feel as though they have been scalded with a hot liquid. The source of BMS is often very difficult to determine.

The pain itself unfolds differently from patient to patient. Some people experience pain that gradually intensifies during the day, whereas others experience pain that is intermittent or constant. Pain may occur for months or even years. Other symptoms associated with BMS include dry mouth (xerostomia), sore mouth, tingling and numbness in the mouth, and a taste disorder.

In many cases, no distinct cause of BMS can be identified. In other cases, the disorder may be caused by a combination of several different factors. Causes of BMS include various illnesses, medications, allergies, hormonal imbalances and psychological factors. BMS is far more likely to affect women than men, especially those who are menopausal or post-menopausal.

Diagnosis of BMS usually begins by ruling out other conditions. A physician or dentist will pay particular attention to the patient’s mouth and ask about the patient’s oral habits and oral hygiene routine. Tests such as blood tests, allergy tests, and an oral swab or biopsy, may also be ordered.

Treatment for BMS varies significantly depending on the cause of the disorder, and may include medications, dietary changes and/or psychological counseling.
Patients can best prevent symptoms by avoiding certain irritants, including alcohol-based mouthwashes, products containing cinnamon or mint, cigarette smoke and acidic liquids.

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