Have you noticed that your mouth feels like it has been scalded, or is on fire? You may have what is called Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS), a chronic, burning pain in your mouth that may affect your tongue, lips, gums, palate, throat or even your whole mouth. It may last for years, go away suddenly on its own, or become less frequent.
Although the exact cause of BMS is not known, it can occur with a range of medical or dental conditions, from nutritional and vitamin deficiencies to menopause, dry mouth and allergies. BMS can affect anyone, but it occurs most commonly in middle-aged or older women who are going through or are past the menopause – who’s mouths can get as hot as their hot flashes.
Your lips, palate, gums and tongue feel as if you’ve burned them on hot coffee, except the sensation does not go away.
Some possible causes are: damage to nerves that control pain and taste, hormonal changes, dry mouth, autoimmune deficiencies, Vitamin B and/or nutritional deficiencies, fungal infections of the mouth, acid reflux, poorly fitting dentures or allergies to denture materials, stress, anxiety, depression and more. Once any underlying causes are diagnosed and treated, your BMS symptoms should get better. If a cause cannot be found, treatment can be challenging.
By avoiding tobacco, hot spices, acidic foods and drinks, and excessive stress you may be able to reduce the pain from BMS or prevent it from getting worse. Also eat more Vitamin B foods and carefully monitor your diet. You might want to change your toothpaste and mouthwash, and stay hydrated to stimulate saliva production, which will help decrease the pain.
Your risk for getting BMS may be greater if you’re a woman, or you’re in your 50s, 60s, or even 70s. Some doctors think hormone therapy may help.
All treatment should be tailored to your individual needs and you should talk with your dentist and/or medical doctor about possible steps you can take to minimize the problems associated with BMS.