Burning mouth syndrome or BMS is the medical term for a disorder where patients experience a burning sensation in one or more tissues in the mouth.
This condition can be chronic or recurrent, it may involve a variety of symptoms, and very often it is idiopathic, which can make successful treatment significantly more difficult for doctors and dental professionals.
What Is Burning Mouth Syndrome?
This is a condition named for the symptoms. Patients who have burning mouth complain of a scalded sensation in their mouth, have a dry mouth without apparent cause, increased thirst and changes to or loss of taste.
The condition can affect any or all of the oral tissues, including the tongue, lips, cheeks and gums.
How BMS Develops
Most cases are seen in patients who are over 50 at the time of diagnosis. This syndrome is a disorder of opposites and unknowns, and many patients find that the sensation and pain associated with BMS develop over time, while others find that their symptoms appear suddenly. They can remain constant or fluctuate over a long period.
Patients find that in some instances, any of the following could occur:
- Symptoms remain constant throughout the day.
- Symptoms start mild at the beginning of the day and progress as it passes, or
- Symptoms can come and go during the day without any apparent trigger.
How Is BMS Diagnosed?
As one would imagine, with symptoms and onset so vague and potentially different in each case, there’s no concrete way to diagnose burning mouth syndrome from patient to patient.
Because the symptoms can vary so much from one case to the next, there’s also no definitive test that can confirm that a patient has this disorder or not.
Diagnosis is often based purely on a patient’s description of their symptoms, and confirmed if they respond to one or more of the traditional treatments for the condition. We work to exclude any other reason for the burning sensation which may be caused by infection, medication or vitamin deficiencies.
Primary Versus Secondary Syndrome
Many cases of BMS have no clear cause, and the only symptoms are the symptoms of BMS itself. This is a classic case of idiopathic BMS, or primary burning mouth syndrome.
Sometimes, a patient reports a case of BMS as a secondary condition, which is triggered by a different but related condition. These conditions may include:
- Dry mouth
- Oral fungus infections
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Gastrointestinal conditions like reflux
- Tongue thrusting or tooth grinding
- Other conditions like diabetes
Burning Mouth Treatment
Treatment for burning mouth syndrome depends very much on the type of BMS. In patients with primary burning mouth, where there is no discernable cause, the only treatment is to control the symptoms by dealing with the pain.
Patients who have secondary BMS benefit most by treating the underlying cause of the condition first. In this case, burning mouth treatment may involve a collaboration between your doctor and dentist, to find and solve the problem or problems that is causing the condition.
For more information on burning mouth treatment or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Tom Shackleton, please contact us at 403-242-9952 today.