We’ve all experienced the painful sensation of burning our mouth after eating or drinking something that is too hot. Some people suffer from this same burning sensation recurrently, with no known cause. This is known as Burning Mouth Syndrome. This condition can appear suddenly and can be intense, as if you have scalded your mouth.

Symptoms

The main symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome include:

  • a recurring burning, scalding or tingling sensation that can affect the mouth, tongue, lips, inside of cheeks or roof of the mouth
  • a dry mouth and an associated increase in thirst
  • changes in taste; most commonly a metallic or bitter taste in the mouth
  • loss of taste

Some people notice a pattern where the level of discomfort changes over the course of the day. For example, the sensation might not be very strong in the morning, but becomes progressively more unpleasant as the day wears on. Conversely, other people may experience the discomfort at consistent levels all day.

Cause of Burning Mouth Syndrome

Unfortunately, the cause of Burning Mouth Syndrome is often not able to be determined exactly. If tests don’t indicate an underlying medical problem, the Burning Mouth Syndrome is considered Primary BMS which is linked to damaged nerves that control pain and taste. If there is an underlying medical issue, the syndrome is therefore considered Secondary BMS and is the result of another condition such as hormonal changes, reactions to medication, allergies, acid reflux or nutritional deficiencies among others.

Treatment

Burning Mouth Syndrome is a complex condition and treatment success varies considerably from one person to the next. There are medications that can be prescribed that can help to reduce discomfort as well as relieve dry mouth. If a patient is diagnosed with Secondary BMS, treating the primary medical condition will cure the syndrome.

Irritants

There are some types of food and drinks that can serve to irritate the mouth and amplify the symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome. These include spicy food, hot food, alcohol, mouthwashes containing alcohol, tobacco as well as food and drink with high acidity levels such as citrus fruits and pickles. It is helpful to keep a food diary where you can track what you eat and drink and how this corresponds to an increase or decrease in discomfort levels. Instead of consuming aggravating substances, it is recommended that patients instead suck on ice cubes, sip cold drinks and chew sugarless gum to stimulate the production of saliva.