My Mouth Is Burning!

Your mouth is burning, but you have not had anything hot to eat or drink. What is going on?


It might be Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS), a very real condition (also known as "stomatopyrosis"). It is painful and frustrating,

and it typically affects middle-aged or older women. Burning mouth syndrome affects nearly 1.3 million Americans.


Here is the essential information you might need to know.graphicstock-portrait-of-aged-women-doing-yoga-exercise - SM H0zkv2sF-Z


Here are two definitions:


The International Association for the Study of Pain defines burning mouth syndrome as "a distinctive nosological entity characterized by unremitting oral burning or similar pain in the absence of detectable mucosal changes, and "burning pain in the tongue or other oral mucous membranes." 


The International Headache Society defines it as "an intra-oral burning sensation for which no medical or dental cause can be found."


Symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome

  • Moderate to severe burning in the mouth
  • Tingling or numbness of the tip of your tongue or elsewhere in your mouth
  • Metallic or bitter taste
  • Dry or sore mouth

Often the symptoms intensify over the course of the day. But the pain usually subsides at night.

According to the Mayo Clinic: “Whatever pattern of mouth discomfort you have, burning mouth syndrome may last for months to years. In rare cases, symptoms may suddenly go away on their own or become less frequent. ... Burning mouth syndrome usually doesn't cause any noticeable physical changes to your tongue or mouth.”


Causes of Burning Mouth Syndrome

Sometimes, the cause of burning mouth is easy to identify and diagnose. It is not uncommon, however, to be unable to identify a cause of the burning. Among the possible causes of burning mouth syndrome are the following:

  • Damage to nerves that control taste and pain in the mouth
  • Hormonal changes
  • Dry mouth – often cause by other disorders and medications (Diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome).
  • Deficiencies in nutrition
  • Oral candidiasis (a fungal infection in the mouth)
  • Acid reflux
  • Poorly fitting dentures, allergies to denture materials
  • Anxiety and depression (although sometimes burning mouth can cause anxiety and depression).

In some cases, more than one of these factors are causing the burning


Diagnosing Burning Mouth Syndrome

Diagnosis is typically based on your medical history, an oral examination, and a general medical exam. This might suggest that your primary care physician and your dentist could work together. Some tests are often made to assist in the diagnosis:

  • Blood tests for infections, nutritional deficiencies, diabetes or thyroid conditions.
  • Oral swab test for oral candidiasis.
  • Allergy testing for some foods, denture materials (when appropriate), or other types of allergies.

Treating Burning Mouth Syndrome

Treatment is always individualized based on suspected causes of burning mouth. That said, there are a number of possible treatments, including:

  • Replacing or adjusting dentures
  • Dietary adjustments to respond to nutritional deficiencies
  • Treating contributing illnesses (diabetes, thyroid problems, Sjogren’s syndrome)
  • When possible, changing medications that may be causing or contributing to the problem
  • Taking appropriate medications (as recommended by your physician or dentist) to relieve dry mouth, to treat oral candidiasis, to mitigate pain from nerve damage, to relieve anxiety and depression.

What You Can Do to Manage Burning Mouth Syndrome

  • Sip water frequently
  • Suck on ice chips
  • Avoid hot, spicy foods
  • Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol
  • Avoid products that are high in acid
  • Chew sugarless gum
  • Brush your dentures or teeth with baking soda and water
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco.