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Burning Mouth Syndrome

A burning sensation on the lips, tongue or inside the mouth is called "burning mouth syndrome" when the cause is unknown and it is not a symptom of another disease. Other symptoms include dryness and altered taste and it is common in people with anxiety, depression and personality disorders. Women are at highest risk of this syndrome after passing menopause.

Burning mouth syndrome is also known as scalded mouth syndrome, burning lips syndrome, burning tongue syndrome, glossodynia and stomatodynia.

What is Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a painful, frustrating condition often described as a scalding sensation in the tongue, lips, palate, or throughout the mouth. Although BMS can affect anyone, it occurs most commonly in middle-aged or older women.

BMS often occurs with a range of medical and dental conditions, from nutritional deficiencies and menopause to dry mouth and allergies. But their connection is unclear, and the exact cause of burning mouth syndrome cannot always be identified with certainty.

Signs and Symptoms

Moderate to severe burning in the mouth is the main symptom of BMS and can persist for months or years. For many people, the burning sensation begins in late morning, builds to a peak by evening, and often subsides at night. Some feel constant pain; for others, pain comes and goes. Anxiety and depression are common in people with burning mouth syndrome and may result from their chronic pain.

Other symptoms of BMS include:
  • tingling or numbness on the tip of the tongue or in the mouth
  • bitter or metallic changes in taste
  • dry or sore mouth

Causes of BMS

Unfortunately, the cause of burning mouth syndrome often can't be determined. While that makes treatment more difficult, don't despair. By working closely with your health care team, you can usually get burning mouth syndrome under control. There are a number of possible causes of burning mouth syndrome, including:
  • damage to nerves that control pain and taste
  • hormonal changes
  • dry mouth, which can be caused by many medicines and disorders such as Sjögren?s syndrome or diabetes
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • oral candidiasis, a fungal infection in the mouth
  • acid reflux
  • poorly-fitting dentures
  • allergies to denture materials
  • anxiety and depression
In some people, burning mouth syndrome may have more than one cause. But for many, the exact cause of their symptoms cannot be found. Some prescription drugs have been noted as a possible cause of Burning Mouth Syndrome:
  • ACE inhibitors
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers
  • Antiretrovirals (nevirapine and efavirenz)
  • L-thyroxines
  • Sulfonamides

Diagnosis

A review of your medical history, a thorough oral examination, and a general medical examination may help identify the source of your burning mouth. Tests may include:
  • blood work to look for infection, nutritional deficiencies, and disorders associated with BMS such as diabetes or thyroid problems
  • oral swab to check for oral candidiasis
  • allergy testing for denture materials, certain foods, or other substances that may be causing your symptoms

Treatment

Painkillers, hormone therapies, antidepressants have all been tried as possible cures. Treatment should be tailored to your individual needs. Depending on the cause of your BMS symptoms, possible treatments may include:

  • adjusting or replacing irritating dentures
  • treating existing disorders such as diabetes, Sjögren?s syndrome, or a thyroid problem to improve symptoms of burning mouth
  • recommending supplements for nutritional deficiencies
  • switching medicine, where possible, if a drug you are taking is causing a burning mouth
  • prescribing medications to
  • relieve dry mouth
  • treat oral candidiasis
  • help control pain from nerve damage
  • relieve anxiety and depression
When no underlying cause can be found, treatment is aimed at the symptoms to try to reduce the pain associated with burning mouth syndrome.

Helpful Tips

Those suffering from burning mouth syndrome have recommended the following self-care tips to help ease the pain.
  • Sip water frequently
  • Suck on ice chips
  • Avoid irritating substances like hot, spicy foods; mouthwashes that contain alcohol; and products high in acid, like citrus fruits and juices
  • Chew sugarless gum
  • Brush your teeth/dentures with baking soda and water
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco products
Your dentist and doctor may have other steps you can take to minimize the problems associated with burning mouth syndrome.

Feedback about Burning Mouth Syndrome

My gums tingle and tongue burns
1/28/2013
Got this a year ago, was told it was from a med I was taking for chostochondritis, called Idomythacin. I stopped taking it, and the pain somewhat subsided, but not all the way. Went on pain meds for a yr and it was gone, now weaning off of the pain meds and it came back a week ago. I am in agony and I am not taking anything except weaning off of oxycodone. Now I dont know what to do. It makes my gums tingle and tongue burn.
Sandra

AskDocWeb: Burning mouth syndrome is one of the rare possible side effects of oxycodone. Did you try any of the tips in the above article? If so, what were your results?


Oxycodone
Date: 7/13/2016
I can't find anything on oxycodone causing burning mouth syndrome. Does it cause burning mouth, syndrome, because it helps mine, I only take 1 in the morning a 10-325 and one at nite. It started after I had dental implants removed in march. Horrible pain and burning, been suffering since. Was in the hospital in Feb 2016 with a bloodclot in liver, colitis, then got c-diff, was put on alot of abx. Just can't seem to get rid of the bms. I have dentures now since the dental implants didn't work for me, and having bms and trying to get use to the denture pain has caused me horrible anxiety and depression, have been out of work since Feb, trying to get back to normal, and just seem to get worse. The oxycodone is the only pain relief I get, and it still doesn't take it all away, but I get some relief for awhile. I haven't read about oxycodone causing bms, that's never listed as one of the side effects. If it is, can you tell me where you read it, then I can get off of the 2 a day I take.
Stephanie

AskDocWeb: It seems to be a very rare but possible side effect. An FDA research report says that out of 7,808 reports of side effects of Oxycodone there were 2 reports of burning mouth syndrome. (Source)


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This page is protected by copyright © 2009 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on burning mouth syndrome and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Source material: Food and Drug Administration, Medline, Physician's Desk Reference, and the largest community of people in the world, those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.
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