If you constantly feel a burning sensation in your mouth then you could be suffering from a condition burning mouth syndrome.
This is a strong sensation similar to if you scalded your mouth.
You feel it on your tongue, on the palate, lips, gums and inside of the cheeks.
This condition can develop suddenly without an exact cause however, it can turn chronic or it may start happening periodically.
Identifying the triggers and causes can help in decreasing its frequency. Therefore, you can cope with it better if you refrain from certain things.
This article discusses the symptoms, causes and treatment of BMS. Keep reading to know more!
Signs and Symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome
The sensation resulting from BMS is very similar to what you feel when you eat something hot. It feels scalding however, unlike hot food, this sensation is consistent and not temporary.
The sensation usually occurs on your tongue though it can also affect:
- the roof of your mouth
- entire mouth
- inside of cheeks
The sensation is not the only disturbing part. Your mouth will also taste differently.
You can feel a bitter and metallic taste inside your mouth or you can experience a total loss of taste.
Moreover, your mouth will feel dry and you will feel thirsty most of the time.
A dry mouth is also a burning mouth syndrome symptom.
Also, you may feel a numbing and tingling sensation on your tongue.
There is no certain pattern of BMS. It can occur occasionally and start happening suddenly.
It can come and go throughout the day. Or it may be chronic and it persists all the time. It starts happening the moment you wake up and then it continues throughout the day.
Furthermore, the pain and discomfort can increase over the course of the day. There can be dull pain when you begin the day but it gradually increases as the day goes by.
While there are no physical symptoms and changes of BMS, this condition can last for months to years at end.
Rarely if ever, do they lessen on their own and go away completely.
Though, eating and drinking can relieve the symptoms sometimes to provide temporary comfort.
In order to treat your BMS, it is important to know what causes it.
It can be primary or secondary BMS either without an apparent cause or due to a medical condition or use of medications.
Let’s find out about that more in detail below!
There are two types of BMS, one that occurs due to a cause and the other without a cause.
When there is no identified cause, problem or abnormality that leads to your BMS then it is known as Primary Burning Mouth Syndrome.
Though it may have a relation with the sensory nerves present in the central and peripheral nervous system.
It could also be related to problems with taste. Nonetheless, if there is no identifiable cause of BMS then it is idiopathic Burning Mouth Syndrome.
Secondary BMS can result from existing medical conditions and diseases.
Oral Health Problems
Oral problems such as Dry Mouth, oral thrush, geographic tongue and oral lichen planus can all cause burning.
Burning is a symptom of all of these conditions which result from improper functioning of the salivary glands, fungal infection and inflammation.
A dry mouth can also result after chemotherapy and by taking medications for blood pressure and other diseases.
Additionally, bad oral habits such as teeth grinding, thrusting the tongue and biting the tip of your tongue will cause BMS.
Mouth irritation can occur because of overbrushing your tongue, consuming acidic drinks using an abrasive toothpaste or using mouthwash more than required.
A lack of Vitamin B1, B2, B6, B9, and B12 can all cause your tongue to feel a stinging sensation.
The deficiency of zinc and iron results in it too.
Disorders and Conditions
Persistent acid reflux, endocrine disorders such as diabetes and hypothyroidism causes BMS symptoms.
Moreover, food allergies of flavorings, fragrances, dyes, additives and dental work can have an effect too.
Among several other harms of stress, anxiety and depression, BMS is one too.
Moreover, certain risk factors can make you more susceptible to the condition.
Your doctor can diagnose whether you have Primary or Secondary BMS.
Risks and Complications
Not many people get BMS. However, it is more common in women than in men.
One reason behind that could be age and menopause.
Women over 50 years, perimenopausal and postmenopausal women all are more susceptible to getting it.
Other than that, you could be at risk for developing this condition if you had recent dental work, are under stress, suffer from anxiety and depression.
Furthermore, if you have a recent illness, or chronic diseases like fibromyalgia, autoimmune disorders and Parkinson’s disease then they are likely to cause you a tingling sensation.
Similarly, taking medicines for these diseases or others and having an allergic reaction to food can trigger the stinging sensation.
Even if you do not go through any of these conditions, you can still get BMS considering that it can happen without any reason too.
Due to this you will be highly uncomfortable and have difficulty while eating, getting to sleep as well as face mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Whenever BMS starts you should visit your doctor. Since there can be several reasons behind it, they will carry out different tests to diagnose the exact cause.
Testing and Diagnosis
Visiting your doctor will help you identify the cause and seek treatment immediately.
If no underlying cause is identified in the test then you may have primary BMS, otherwise, your doctor can treat secondary BMS.
- Examination of mouth, checking history, discussing symptoms, and oral habits
- Blood tests
- Allergy tests
- Measuring saliva
After examining your mouth, your doctor will recommend you these tests to identify the cause.
Since there can be many causes of BMS you will get several tests to determine the underlying problem.
A blood test will cover many aspects as it can check for thyroid, glucose, blood cells, immunity and nutritional deficiencies.
An allergy test can find out if dental work or any food is irritating your mouth.
Testing the saliva can inform if your mouth is dry due to a lack of saliva.
Also, they will test you for GERD to see if some of the stomach acids are getting back in your mouth which is causing the stinging and burning.
If these tests do not identify anything then your doctor may recommend taking an oral culture. A biopsy will find out if there is a viral, bacterial or fungal infection causing the problem.
Imaging is also an option to look for these microorganisms.
If one of your medicines is leading to BMS then your doctor can look for alternatives to that medication.
Or they can completely stop it if is not necessary for your health and well-being.
Other than that if they see signs of depression and anxiety then they may give you a psychological questionnaire.
It identifies your mental health problems and after that, your doctor can recommend you to take professional help if that can solve your problems.
Afterward, the treatment depends on whether it is primary or secondary BMS.
Treatment and Prevention of Burning Mouth Syndrome
If your doctor finds out that you have Secondary BMS then they will simply treat the underlying cause.
You can get medicines for your illnesses, GERD or replace medications, get supplements for nutritional deficiency, and stimulating saliva.
However, if there is no identifiable cause behind it then you can try a variety of treatments, cures and remedies so that BMS is not triggered.
They can recommend capsaicin to act as a pain reliever and medicines that block pain.
Moreover, they can give you antidepressants and recommend you to get Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to deal with your pain, anxiety and depression.
In order to increase your saliva production, you can use a salivary stimulant, drink water regularly and suck on ice chips.
Also, lidocaine and certain oral rinses can clear fungal, bacterial and viral infections.
Do not consume alcohol as it can be irritating.
Plus avoid spicy, acidic foods as well as cinnamon and mint.
In fact, even when you are using toothpaste go for a mild, flavor-free toothpaste.
Besides alcohol and strong flavors also avoid smoking and tobacco use.
Moreover, you can take steps to reduce stress by practicing yoga, meditating or exercising.
You can start exercising by walking for 15 minutes daily and then gradually increasing it.
This will help you connect with nature and your present situation.
You can also reduce stress by engaging in your community as well as joining a support group of people with the same pain.
This will help you find out more remedies and cures that worked for other people with BMS.
Burning Mouth Syndrome cannot be prevented however, you can reduce its intensity by avoiding foods that trigger the uncomfortable sensation.
Hence, avoid, stress, alcohol, spicy and acidic foods to avoid this discomfort.