It’s not uncommon to experience a burned mouth after taking a sip of hot tea or enjoying too much of your favorite spicy food. But some people suffer from a rare condition called Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS) for no reason at all, or at least for no obvious reason. BMS is a condition that causes the gums, tongue, lips, cheeks, or throat to feel like they’re burning. Unfortunately, researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint one specific cause for this condition, and there’s no clear test for it. But that doesn’t mean treatment isn’t available. If you or someone you know suffers from BMS, it’s important to understand the symptoms as well as burning mouth treatment options.
Symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome
For most people, BMS flares up unexpectedly and cases can range from mild to severe. Mild cases of BMS may cause occasional tingling or numbness, while patients with severe cases describe their mouths to feel like they’re scalding.
The length of BMS flare-ups also vary. Some people experience symptoms for a few days, while others are forced to deal with the burning sensation for months or even years. Finding relief is very important as BMS symptoms can make it difficult for patients to eat or drink.
Because it’s so rare and the symptoms vary from person to person, doctors find it difficult to diagnose and treat. BMS can be a symptom of many other illnesses and diseases, but sometimes there’s no identifiable cause. Doctors might run blood tests, oral swabs, allergy tests, and salivary flow tests to rule out other illnesses prior to making a BMS diagnosis.
Some pre-existing conditions make patients more susceptible to burning mouth syndrome. They include:
- Oral ulcers and oral fungal infections
- Allergic reactions to oral gels
- Trauma to the tissues of the mouth
- Dentures that do not fit properly
- Malnutrition or vitamin deficiencies
- Stomach acid reflux
A patient with burning mouth syndrome might experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Changes in taste or complete loss in taste
- A spectrum of irritation from numbness or tingling, all the way up to feeling like the mouth is being scalded
- A heightened sense of thirst
- Dryness in the tongue, mouth, or throat
- Intense metallic taste in the mouth
If you experience any of these symptoms, reach out to your dentist for an evaluation.
Burning Mouth Treatment Options
Your dentist or primary doctor might determine that your BMS is caused by an underlying health issue and/or medication. If that’s the case, your doctor will work with you to treat or find a new medication for acid reflux, dry mouth, or a mouth infection.
Primary burning mouth syndrome –– or a case of BMS that has no underlying cause –– usually resolves on its own. But in the meantime, it’s important to deal with the symptoms.
Here are some steps to take during a BMS flare-up:
- Suck on small ice chips throughout the day to lessen the burning sensation.
- Drink or sip cold liquids throughout the day to relieve mouth pain.
- Avoid acidic foods, like citrus fruits.
- Avoid food and drinks that worsen or trigger the burning sensation, and limit your consumption of hot beverages and spicy foods.
- Change your toothpaste. If burning worsens after brushing your teeth, switch to a toothpaste specifically for people with mouth sensitivities, or use baking soda as a toothpaste or mouth rinse.
- Stay active and practice relaxation techniques to reduce stress, like yoga, exercise, and meditation.
Your dentist will be able to recommend other treatment options. Even during a BMS flare-up, it’s important to continue with good dental hygiene habits like brushing and flossing twice daily and seeing your dentist for regular visits.
You deserve a healthy, pain-free smile. Our team here at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado is specially trained in relieving our patients’ pain. Contact us today to schedule your evaluation and learn how we can help you!