Do you feel your lips and the roof of your mouth burning but don’t know why? Does food taste metallic, and is your mouth excessively dry? These could be signs of “Burning Mouth Syndrome,” a rare sensation that is so mysterious that it may leave you feeling disturbed.
“Why is this happening? Do I need to change my diet? Do I have a serious underlying condition that needs to be addressed? Is this due to something like gingivitis or a tooth abscess? What’s going on here?”
Because Burning Mouth Syndrome isn’t as well-known as some other oral health concerns, your frustrations are understandable. The good news is that, for the most part, you don’t need to worry too much. But you also can’t ignore it because it may possibly be a sign of a more serious condition.
What is Burning Mouth Syndrome?
Burning Mouth Syndrome is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a benign burning sensation that affects the tongue, roof of the mouth, gums, the inside of the cheeks, the lips, and the back of the throat. Patients compare the feeling to that of having scalded their mouths with a sip of a hot drink.
Other symptoms include dry mouth, a tingling or numb sensation in the mouth, and a bitter or metallic taste.
The condition is also known as Burning Tongue Syndrome, Burning Lips Syndrome, and Scalded Mouth Syndrome. The more technical terms are glossodynia, orodynia, or oral dysaesthesia.
The intensity and duration varies by patient and is based on the cause. Some patients experience it only temporarily. Some feel it for several consecutive days or weeks. And for some, it’s a chronic condition that comes and goes but cannot be officially cured. It may even vary in intensity at different hours of the day.
Burning Mouth Syndrome affects both men and women, but may be especially common in women during or after menopause.
Possible Causes of Burning Tongue Syndrome
Burning Tongue Syndrome or Burning Mouth Syndrome remains rather mysterious even to researchers. Many factors may cause Burning Mouth Syndrome, but some may actually be symptoms of the condition. They include:
- Anxiety, depression, stress, and other psychological factors
- Acid reflux
- Use of certain medications
- Problems with taste and sensory nerves of the peripheral or central nervous system
- Dry mouth
- Oral thrush
- Oral herpes
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Habits such as tongue thrusting
- Low or high blood pressure
Prevention & Treatment
Burning Mouth Syndrome usually begins suddenly with no apparent triggers, but there are many prevention and treatment options.
Not smoking, avoiding alcohol, and reducing intake of spicy or acidic foods and drinks may prevent or minimize the condition. Drinking water and rinsing with salt water may help reduce inflammation and relieve existing pain. Seeking mental health therapy to reduce emotional triggers may be helpful as well.
The first line of defense, however, is to see your family doctor and Dr. Holtzman to pinpoint the possible causes of the condition, rule out certain possibilities, and treat any problems in your gums or teeth that may be exacerbating the problem. The general practitioner and Dr. Holtzman may also be able to prescribe medications or offer self-care remedies to minimize the pain and prevent triggers.