Burning Mouth Syndrome

Do you experience persistent mouth pain but have a mouth and gums that appear healthy? According to a recent Science Daily article, you may be one of the 2-5% of people who suffer from burning mouth syndrome, or BMS.  This condition has proven to be very difficult to diagnose, considering there aren’t any visible signs, but can cause severe pain which often leads to a reduced quality of life, eating issues, social anxiety, and has even been reported to have driven some to commit suicide.  Oral pain expert Andres Pinto, faculty member at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Dental Medicine, has recently joined a research team investigating how diagnoses and treatment of BMS is being taught to future dentists in an effort to make improvements.

According to Pinto, there are a variety of symptoms that can be associated with burning mouth syndrome.  If you are experiencing oral pain, he suggests checking for the following symptoms:

  • Persistent burning tongue and oral pain with no known dental cause
  • Abnormal taste or dry feeling in the mouth
  • Symptoms that disappear when eating
  • Burning symptoms that migrate across multiple oral areas

Even if these characteristics aren’t present, Pinto recommends consulting with your dentist for a thorough exam of the teeth, gums, mouth, and throat when oral pain is present.  While little is known of the cause of BMS, the condition often affects women between the ages of 50 and 70, and seems to appear anywhere from three to 12 years after menopause.  The origin of BMS has been theoretically linked to the deterioration of the nerves beneath the oral lining, which is not visible on the surface.  It is still unclear how the role of hormones, if any, plays into the development of the syndrome, given the link to menopausal women.  Relief from oral pain caused by BMS can come in the form of special mouthwashes, analgesics, and other topical and systemic treatments.  Findings from Pintos research team are reported in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

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