What is burning mouth syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome is characterized as a chronic condition that causes a burning sensation in the mouth, often on the tongue or mucous membranes without any identifiable cause.

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Most cases of burning mouth syndrome can persist for many years. The syndrome occurs typically among post-menopausal women and often manifest as abrupt onset of symptoms. Those who have this condition often relate their symptoms to a recent trip to a dentist, recent condition or after a course of antibiotic therapy.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The indications of burning mouth syndrome include a burning sensation on the tongue usually on the front part, roof of the mouth or inside the lower lip. The skin on the face is not involved.

The symptoms are often worse in the afternoon and evening and even mild or absent at night time and in the morning. Some notice a change in their sensation of taste and dry mouth as part of the symptoms. Even though many notice a slow, steady partial improvement, the symptoms might last for several years.

What are the causes of burning mouth syndrome?

Burning mouth syndrome is not associated to any particular medical condition, though it might be linked with other chronic pain conditions such as headaches. There are inconsistent connections between diabetes and nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin B1, B2, B6, B12, folate and zinc.

Other conditions such as geographic tongue, oral candidiasis, allergic contact dermatitis, aphthous ulcers and pemphigus vulgaris as well as dental materials can strikingly mimic burning mouth syndrome.

In some cases, the condition is linked to the use of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. The use of these medications has resulted to a steady improvement of the symptoms over a span of a weeks.

Management of burning mouth syndrome

In case there is an underlying cause for burning mouth syndrome, the treatment of the condition might be useful in reducing or eliminating the symptoms such as appropriate supplements to deal with the specific deficiency, topical antifungals and avoidance of contact allergens.

Nevertheless, if there is no underlying condition that can be identified, burning mouth syndrome must be treated symptomatically. The medications that are used to manage neuropathic pain conditions such as benzodiazepines, tricyclic antidepressants and gabapentin can help reduce the symptoms.

Additionally, the use of capsaicin mouth rinses can be useful to minimize the symptoms over time possibly with lasting benefits.

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