New Clues for Causes of Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS)

Have you noticed a burning sensation in your mouth, something that is not due to scalding your mouth on a hot drink or piece of hot pizza? Burning Mouth Syndrome, or BMS, can affect the tongue, roof of the mouth, insides of cheeks, gums and lips. The burning or scalding sensation can appear suddenly or can develop over time. It can come and go, or remain constant. It can range from mild to severe, and it can feel better when eating or drinking.

There are two types of BMS, primary and secondary. With primary BMS, the cause is from damage to the nerves that control taste and pain sensations. In cases of secondary BMS, the cause may be due to medical conditions or treatments. These include:

  • Allergies to foods or dental products
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Diabetes
  • Dry mouth
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Geographic tongue
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Mouth infections
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Medications such as high blood pressure medicines

A new study in September 2018, by the University of Gothenburg, found that BMS patients suffer considerably more from skin diseases and skin problems. They also found that there are more inflammatory factors in their saliva. They are hoping that discovering this new information will provide more “pieces to the puzzle”, leading to better diagnosis and treatment in the future.

Until better treatments are developed, there are some recommended home remedies that may provide relief:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, and/or keep a glass of ice chips nearby to suck on
  • Avoid problematic foods, limiting acidic foods and drinks like tomatoes and citrus fruits, citrus juices, soda and coffee. Spicy foods, cinnamon, and mint may also cause an increase in symptoms
  • Use flavor free toothpaste, suitable for sensitive teeth, and limit use of mouthwash
  • Quit smoking
  • Address medical conditions
  • Reduce stress, and seek help for mental health issues where possible

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