Burning Mouth Syndrome Still A Mystery

Burning mouth syndrome affects about 1.3 million Americans with the large majority being postmenopausal women, and it still remains a medical/dental mystery. It is characterized by a burning sensation in the tongue or other areas of the mouth. Once the oral burning sensation starts, it usually persists for many years.

Pain is the chief complaint in this condition. More than half of all patients with Burning Mouth Syndrome report the onset of pain as spontaneous with no specific triggering factor. About 1/3 of all patients who are diagnosed with Burning Mouth Syndrome attribute the time of onset to a recent illness, a dental procedure or therapeutic medication.

Besides the burning sensation of the tongue, some people also have a burning feeling in the front of their hard palate and/or their lower lip. Affected individuals often have multiple oral complaints including dryness of their mouth and taste alterations.

Typically, individuals awaken without pain but discomfort occurs at a moderate level by mid-morning and progressively worsens into the afternoon and evening.

Hormonal changes, nutritional deficiencies [vitamins B1, B2 and B6 and zinc] high glucose levels, dysfunction of cranial nerves, dry mouth, Candida infections or personality and mood swings are often seen in people with Burning Mouth Syndrome. However, no causal relationship has been established.

What can be done to alleviate this problem? After resolving local oral conditions and/or managing systemic situations, if burning persists, a diagnosis of Burning Mouth Syndrome should be considered.

Some of the methods of treatment include Hormone Replacement Therapy, nutritional supplementation, high fluid intake and medication. In low doses antidepressants such as Elavil and Librium may be effective with Burning Mouth Syndrome. It is not clear why these medications work.

Call our office if you are experiencing any of the symptoms.