Burning Mouth Syndrome

By Premier Dental of Ohio

Burning Mouth Syndrome is more common than you know

Burning Mouth Syndrome

If you suffer from burning mouth syndrome, you understand the need for more information. This condition affects thousands of Americans, causing intense pain and impairing the ability to eat and speak well.  In this week’s blog, we will explain this condition, what it feels like, its potential causes, and what you can do about it. Save and share for any loved ones who experience this painful condition!

What is Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome is a condition in which the inside of the mouth, especially the tongue, feels like it is burning or stinging with intense pain. There are several conditions which can cause a burning mouth pain, and when a doctor or dentist cannot identify a specific underlying cause, the default diagnosis is “burning mouth syndrome”.  This means that officially, burning mouth syndrome does not have an identifiable cause.  

Burning mouth syndrome commonly affects the tongue, and it can also cause a burning or stinging sensation on other tissues inside the mouth. The tissue may appear completely normal, or it could look bright red in color.

Because so many people experience burning mouth sensations, we will cover all of the possible causes of this condition even though we know that an official diagnosis of burning mouth syndrome means that no underlying cause is pinpointed.

What Causes Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Because the painful symptoms of burning mouth syndrome also occur as the result of other problems, we need to rule those conditions out as potential causes. The good news is that, if you and your doctor do identify one of these conditions, when you treat it, you may also experience great relief from your burning mouth!

Zinc Deficiency

Zinc is an important mineral for overall health. It aids in wound healing, protects cells from free radical damage and supports a healthy respiratory system.  It also has antimicrobial properties to help fight infections.  

When you are deficient in the mineral Zinc, you may experience aphthous ulcers (canker sores), angular cheilitis (sores at the corners of your mouth) or a burning mouth.

Use of Inhalers

People who frequently use inhaled medication for the treatment of conditions like asthma or cystic fibrosis may also experience burning mouth sensations. These inhalers often cause a severely dry mouth. It is the severe dry mouth that increases the risk for fungal infections, gum disease, and burning mouth syndrome.  

Those using inhalers on a daily basis should rinse their mouths with plain water immediately after the inhaled treatment. They should also work with their dentist to combat the effects of dry mouth on oral health.

Type II Diabetes

Type II diabetes is a condition affecting millions of Americans.  One of the consequences of this serious disease is a lack of blood flow to extremities, and the tissues in the mouth are an “extremity”. Diabetics often have poor wound healing due to impaired blood flow (this is why they may lose toes or suffer vision loss).  Our diabetic patients commonly experience dry mouth and burning mouth symptoms.

Investigating type II diabetes as a potential cause of burning mouth is important because it could allow you to intercept a dangerous health condition and seek the treatment you need as quickly as possible.

Vitamin B Deficiency

The vitamin B complex is essential to good immune support, enabling your body to fight disease and infection. Specifically, vitamin B9, or folate, is necessary for cell production.  When someone is deficient in vitamin B9, he or she may experience burning mouth syndrome as well as other oral symptoms.  

How Can My Dentist or Doctor Determine the Underlying Cause?

It is difficult to uncover the exact cause of burning mouth syndrome, and sometimes no cause is obvious. We do work to rule out the known causes of the symptoms of a burning mouth listed above.

Your dentist will likely refer you to your medical doctor for bloodwork. This enables your doctor to identify any of the conditions that are commonly associated with burning mouth. For those using inhalers, we rule out all other causes, and then treat as if the inhaled medication is the cause.

What is the Treatment for Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Treatment always first aims to mitigate or eliminate the cause of the disease.  If we can identify a specific cause, then we treat that. For example, if you do have previously undiscovered type II diabetes, you would work with your medical doctor or endocrinologist to get it under control. 

When your dentist and doctor are unable to identify a specific cause of the burning mouth syndrome, any treatment then aims to alleviate your symptoms. These often include prescription products, both oral medications and mouth rinses, to relieve the pain inside the mouth. Some medications work to block improper nerve signals (neurological disorders). Treatment may require trying multiple techniques to see what works in your specific case.

What Can I Do to Relieve the Pain of Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Even before you see your dentist and medical doctor about this condition, you can begin taking steps to relieve the pain of your burning mouth. Follow these important tips to reduce the burning and stinging pain as much as possible.

Avoid Acidic Food and Drinks

Foods and beverages that are low in pH (or very acidic) tend to aggravate the soft tissues inside the mouth.  If you already have burning mouth syndrome, acidic foods and drinks may worsen it.  You should avoid citrus fruits, tomato products, carbonated drinks, coffee, and alcohol. These are all acidic in pH and could make your burning worse.

Avoid Spicy Food

Spicy food also tends to aggravate the delicate tissues lining the inside of the mouth. You should choose very mild food when your mouth is burning or stinging. Avoid adding additional spice from pepper, Sriracha or Tabasco sauce. Eating spicy Mexican, Indian or Thai food will aggravate any sensations of burning you are already feeling.    

Avoid Food and Drinks that are Hot in Temperature

Hot temperatures also tend to make any burning feeling exponentially worse! You may need to let your coffee or soup cool down to room temperature to reduce the pain it can cause.  We recommend eating a lukewarm or cold diet during periods of burning and stinging.

Use Cold for Pain Relief

The simplest and fastest way to relieve pain inside your mouth is to hold a small ice cube in it as it melts. You can also swish and drink ice-cold water. The cold provides a soothing sensation, counteracting the burning that this syndrome causes. We often recommend sugar-free popsicles to those who have difficulty managing their burning mouth symptoms.

Stay Hydrated!

A dry mouth worsens everything! If you have any type of sore or burning sensation in your mouth, you must stay well hydrated. Not only does the water moisten the interior of your mouth while you are drinking; it also enables your salivary glands to produce more saliva. Your body cannot make enough saliva if it is dehydrated.  

In addition to drinking plenty of water, you should also avoid the beverages that dehydrate you. Both alcohol and caffeine pull water out of the body, so avoid them when your mouth is burning.

More Questions about Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location today to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable board-certified dentists. We can answer any questions you have about Burning Mouth Syndrome and assess your specific situation.  We are always happy to help our patients find a solution that relieves their pain and improves their quality of life!

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