Burning Mouth Syndrome

What is burning mouth syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a condition that causes pain and discomfort in your mouth, lips, and/or tongue. BMS is more common in women than men. It is found more in women during or post menopause.

Symptoms of burning mouth syndrome

People who have BMS usually report that symptoms happen all of a sudden. Typical symptoms include:

  • burning feeling in the mouth, tongue, and/or lips
  • increased pain during the day, and decreased or no pain at night
  • decreased pain after eating
  • dry mouth
  • bitter or metallic taste.

What causes burning mouth syndrome?

There are no apparent causes for burning mouth syndrome. Cases have been linked to actions, such as:

  • nerve damage
  • a dental procedure
  • nutritional deficiency
  • menopause, or other hormonal changes
  • certain medicines, such as ACE inhibitors that are used to treat heart disease
  • extreme allergic reactions
  • health conditions that alter taste or saliva production
  • a mucosal disease
  • mental disorders.

How is burning mouth syndrome diagnosed?

There is no simple way to test for BMS. Your doctor will examine your mouth and ask about your medical history and symptoms. This will help better pinpoint a possible cause. They may perform tests to rule out other possible issues.

Can burning mouth syndrome be prevented or avoided?

Since there isn’t a known cause for BMS, you cannot prevent or avoid it.

Burning mouth syndrome treatment

There isn’t a specific cure for burning mouth syndrome. The best thing you can do is address your symptoms. Treatment is based on your symptoms and severity. Possible treatment options include:

  • products to produce saliva and relieve dry mouth
  • vitamin supplements, such as iron, zinc, or vitamin B, to provide nutrition
  • ointments, such as Capsaicin, to relieve pain
  • depression or anxiety medicines to relieve pain and improve your nervous system.

If your doctor thinks a certain medicine is causing BMS, they might suggest switching to a new one.

Living with burning mouth syndrome

Most cases of BMS improve on their own. Additional tips for easing your symptoms, include:

  • sucking on ice chips
  • drinking plenty of liquids
  • avoiding hot and spicy foods
  • avoiding foods and drinks that are high in acid, like citrus fruit, soda, and coffee
  • avoiding alcohol and tobacco products
  • avoiding products that contain alcohol
  • trying a new brand of toothpaste.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • If I have dry mouth, am I at higher risk of getting burning mouth syndrome?
  • What can I do to get rid of the taste and burning feeling in my mouth?
  • What can I do if I’m having trouble sleeping because of the pain?
  • Is something I’m eating causing my mouth to burn? If so, what changes can I make to my diet?
  • Will burning mouth syndrome go away on its own?