Have you felt like your mouth – whether it’s the tongue, palate, lips or the entire area -- is being scalded? Or have you had the sensation of having a dry mouth and felt increasingly thirsty? Is your mouth sore? Have you seen a change in your sense of taste in that things seem more bitter or metallic? Have you lost your sense of taste?
If so, you may be suffering from burning mouth syndrome – and menopause may be part of the reason that you’ve developed this condition. While uncommon among the general population, burning mouth syndrome does tend to strike women as they go through the menopausal transition and then when they are postmenopausal.
Burning mouth syndrome can last for months or even years. The discomfort often begins during late morning, peaks in the evening and then subsides at night. Some people may experience constant pain while other people report that their pain ebbs at times. Furthermore, many people who have burning mouth syndrome also experience anxiety and depression.
Researchers haven’t determined what causes burning mouth syndrome. They have identified two types of this condition. The first type, primary burning mouth syndrome, is when clinical or lab abnormalities are not seen. Researchers believe this type is related to sensory nerves of the peripheral or central nervous syndrome and issues with taste.
Secondary burning mouth syndrome often occurs along with one or more medical and dental conditions. These conditions can include:
- Nutritional deficiencies – These deficiencies often are iron, zinc, folate (vitamin B9), thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and/or cobalamin (vitamin B12).
- Dry mouth – This condition can be a result of health issues, salivary gland function, a side effect of cancer treatment or a side effect of medications.
- Disorders – Disorders such as Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes and hypothyroidism can cause this syndrome.
- Oral conditions – These conditions can include oral thrush, oral lichen planus or geographic tongue.
- Ill-fitting dentures – Additionally, dentures that contain materials that irritate the mouth can lead to burning mouth syndrome.
- Allergies or reactions – These reactions can be caused by food or ingredients in food, fragrances, dyes and substances used in dental work.
- Acid reflux.
- Medications, especially angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors used to control high blood pressure.
- Teeth grinding, biting the tongue’s tip or tongue thrusting.
- Mouth irritation – The mouth may be irritated by toothpaste, mouthwash, over-brushing the tongue, or drinking too many acidic drinks.
Treatments to ease this condition are tailored based on your specific needs. These treatments could include adjusting or replacing dentures, treating existing disorders, recommending specific nutritional supplements, switching medications, or prescribing medications that can relieve dry mouth, control pain from nerve damage, treat oral candidias or relieve anxiety and/or depression. If there is not an underlying cause for your condition, you may receive medications to reduce the pain associated with this condition.
Some self-care tips also may ease your discomfort. These can include drinking water frequently, sucking on ice chips and chewing sugarless gum. You also may want to avoid substances that may irritate your mouth such as hot and spicy foods, mint, cinnamon, carbonated beverages, tomatoes, coffee, mouthwashes that contain alcohol, acidic products such as citrus fruits and juices, alcohol and tobacco products. Additionally, you might want to try brushing our teeth or dentures with baking soda and water. You also may be able to reduce symptoms by lowering your stress levels through relaxation techniques. Joining a support group, engaging in physical activity and hobbies, and remaining socially active also can help lower your stress and anxiety levels.
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Mayo Clinic. (2013). Burning mouth syndrome.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. (2011). Burning mouth syndrome.
Published On: July 28, 2014