What is Burning Mouth Syndrome?
This condition has much about it that remains unknown, and is very hard to pinpoint the cause of. The areas that may be very uncomfortable are the tongue, gums, lips, inside of the cheeks, and the roof of the mouth. This is a severe burning, as if you have accidentally encountered flame, or boiling water on the tongue.
The pain may occur every day for months or even longer, and at this time there is no specific test that can lead medical professionals to solid answers. Acting as a bit of an opposite of other dental conditions, the pain can go down a little bit when eating or drinking, unless the food is of a particularly spicy type, such as curry.
One of the biggest hurdles with this condition is the fact that people who suffer from it don’t have a physically visible problem that the specialist can look at during a thorough exam. The ones that are best able to detect Burning Mouth Syndrome are those who specialize in oral medicine or oral surgery, and those who are ear, nose, and throat specialists. Even dermatologists have become very keen on picking up on this problem.
Here are some of the tests that the patient may undergo that can be a great help in figuring out whether or not they are suffering from this somewhat strange condition.
• Blood tests to check for other medical problems
• Oral swab tests
• Allergy tests
• Testing for salivary flow
• Biopsy of tissue
• Imaging tests
If tests such as blood or biopsy do not immediately reveal an underlying medical problem, there is a preliminary diagnosis of primary Burning Mouth Syndrome. Some neurological experts even believe that the sensation can originate because of damages to the specific nerves that control pain and taste.
Secondary Burning Mouth Syndrome is diagnosed when the patient is still having symptoms and there are medical conditions found during tests. Many times, treating the discovered medical problem will have a curing effect on the condition. Some of the conditions that can be culprits are as follows:
• Diabetes or thyroid problem that causes hormonal changes
• Allergies to dental products, and some dental materials such as metals
• An extremely dry mouth, which can be caused by medications and different kind of radiation therapy.
• Medicines taken to aid in reducing blood pressure
• Low levels of vitamin B or iron
• A yeast infection that makes its way to the mouth
• The burn of acid reflux
Whether you have been formally diagnosed or not by an emergency dentist, there are things you can do to to help ease the burning pain of this condition when it occurs. One of the best sources of relief is ice chips: sucking on them will almost always provide temporary relief.
Sipping a very cold beverage helps, as well as quickly popping a piece of sugarless gum in your mouth. Making sure that it is sugarless is very important: it will have much less of a potential to irritate or cause extra inflammation.
Some of the substances that are almost always bound to cause irritation are ones you are definitely going to want to avoid. The ones on this list are nearly guaranteed to provide discomfort:
• Mouthwashes with alcohol
• Hot and spicy foods or sauces
• Items that are very high in acidity, such as citrus
Categorized as one of the strangest cases on record, a 65-year old woman developed a case of burning mouth that got unbearable when she brushed her teeth, but then quickly subsided. She went to a dentist, an oral surgeon, and a family doctor, and simply could not get any answers.
The first attempts to remedy it with her were mouthwashes, anti-anxiety drugs, and instructions to avoid toothpaste that claimed to whiten teeth. Nothing worked, and she claimed that it was feeling like a sunburn in her mouth, and becoming unbearable.
After six months of continued pain and anguish, a doctor had the idea of testing the woman’s saliva for the virus that causes oral herpes, or HSV-1. One of the tell-tale signs is usually cold sores which the woman was not displaying, but the doctor went based on his gut. The test showed that her saliva was highly infected with the bacteria, and antiviral medication kept her cleared up for the following year and a half.
Right from the start, HSV-1 is kind of a strange animal: it can even cause brain inflammation, or encephalitis in very rare cases. In this woman’s particular incident, the virus infected the facial nerves that were giving her the pain, and caused a high level of confusion surrounding her ultimate diagnosis.
Medically Fact-Checked & Written by Our Dental Editorial Team
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