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Burning mouth syndrome is as unpleasant as it sounds.
Imagine months upon months of daily or recurring burning pain in the mouth, affecting your lips, tongue, gums, the roof of your mouth, the inside of your cheeks, or the area under your tongue — or perhaps all those areas at once. Imagine approaching your dentist or family doctor for help and expecting answers, only to be told no specific test exists for your problem, and no specific treatment works for everyone. Imagine being told your healthcare provider can't even find the cause of the burning pain that's making your life hell. Welcome to burning mouth syndrome.
What Is Burning Mouth Syndrome?
Burning mouth syndrome is a benign but extremely unpleasant condition characterized by burning sensations in parts or all of the mouth. Also called scalded mouth syndrome, burning lips syndrome, burning tongue syndrome stomatodynia and glossodynia, burning mouth syndrome affects about two percent of the population.
Because the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome and the pattern in which symptoms occur vary greatly from patient to patient, burning mouth syndrome arguably isn't a single medical condition at all, but rather a set of symptoms that may or may not have an identifiable cause. Thought to be a form of neuropathic pain, BMS can be diagnosed when no obvious physical symptoms of other medical conditions, such as geographic tongue or lichen planus, are present.
BMS is a rare condition, but women, especially post-menopausal women, and people in their fifties, sixties, and seventies are more commonly affected. Usually striking out of the blue with no clearly identifiable cause, burning mouth syndrome can also, in some cases, be triggered by particular events. These include dental procedures such as getting dentures fitted, upper respiratory tract infections, traumatic events, stress and anxiety, and taking medication. Food allergies may also bring on BMS.
Signs You May Suffer From Burning Mouth Syndrome
For many, the symptoms are relieved somewhat when they eat or drink. The symptoms of burning mouth syndrome may torture the patient on an ongoing basis, but they can also be intermittant, or increase over the course of a day. While burning mouth syndrome can resolve spontaneously after a few months in rare cases, some people suffer from its symptoms for years.
Needless to say, suffering excrutiating pain in such a sensitive area of the body can be life-altering. Burning mouth syndrome can make every-day events like eating, falling asleep, and participating in conversations almost impossible.