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How is Burning Mouth Syndrome Diagnosed?

Find out how patients are finding relief from oral mucositis caused by chemotherapy

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How is Burning Mouth Syndrome Diagnosed?

Patients across the country have to contend every day with ailments that affect their quality of life. These ailments can take many forms, from the major health risks that come with diseases like cancer to the relatively minor discomfort brought on by the seasonal flu, but few of these illnesses are more frustrating for patients than burning mouth syndrome (BMS).

Though the name may make it seem straightforward, BMS is actually a complicated condition that can manifest in a variety of ways; treating burning mouth syndrome can be difficult or impossible for many patients, forcing some people who have BMS to deal with their symptoms any way they can. To learn more about burning mouth syndrome, including how BMS is diagnosed and what treatment options might exist for patients, keep reading as the people at Chemo Mouthpiece™ explain.

What is Burning Mouth Syndrome?

Though many of us take them for granted, simple tasks like eating, drinking, and speaking aren’t easy for everyone. Those with the symptoms of burning mouth syndrome, for instance, often have a much harder time with these tasks because of the pain that comes with this condition. Burning mouth syndrome is an illness characterized by painful or uncomfortable sensations throughout the mouth or along the cheeks, tongue, gums, lips, or palate; patients may experience a burning or scalding sensation, tingling or numbness, severe dry mouth, excessive thirst, or changes in their sense of taste.

For some patients, the symptoms of BMS can start in the morning and last throughout the day, while others may only experience intermittent pain or discomfort that escalates steadily. Depending on the cause of these symptoms and a number of other factors, burning mouth syndrome can last for weeks, months, or even years. There are also two types of BMS that can afflict a person; ultimately, the length and severity of symptoms will largely depend on which form of the condition a person has (Source).

Diagnosing Burning Mouth Syndrome

Although the symptoms often overlap, there are two forms of burning mouth syndrome: primary BMS and secondary BMS. The method of treatment and overall prognosis can vary widely depending on which one you have, so the first thing your doctor is likely to do if you report the symptoms of BMS is to run some tests and attempt to make a formal diagnosis.

Secondary Burning Mouth Syndrome

In many cases, patients with burning mouth syndrome don’t have any problems that a dentist or physician can see, so a diagnosis of BMS often relies on a battery of procedures used to test for a range of underlying conditions. These procedures include the following:

  • Salivary flow tests
  • Blood tests
  • Oral swabs or biopsies
  • Imaging tests, such as an MRI or CT scan
  • Allergy tests
  • Acid reflux tests
  • Adjustments to medications
  • Psychological examinations

If any of the tests listed above come back positive, you will probably be diagnosed with secondary BMS. This type of burning mouth syndrome comes with a clear underlying issue, meaning that the patient’s BMS symptoms are caused by something a doctor can identify. Possible causes of secondary burning mouth syndrome include the following:

  • A lack of certain nutrients, such as iron, zinc, or vitamin B
  • An oral infection, including those caused by yeast or bacteria
  • A problem with the endocrine system, such as diabetes or a malfunctioning thyroid
  • Excessive dry mouth, including as a side effect of chemotherapy
  • Acid reflux also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Sensitivities or allergies caused by foods or dental materials
  • Side effects of medications, particularly those used to treat high blood pressure
  • Poor oral habits, such as teeth grinding or overbrushing

Primary Burning Mouth Syndrome

If all tests come back negative and your doctor is unable to find an underlying cause for your BMS symptoms, you will likely be diagnosed with primary burning mouth syndrome. In essence, a diagnosis of primary BMS means that your physician or specialist cannot find a reason for your oral pain, which makes this type of BMS very difficult to treat. Many experts believe that primary burning mouth syndrome is caused by damage to the nerve cells that pick up pain and taste, though this has yet to be proven definitively (Source).

Treating Burning Mouth Syndrome

For those with secondary BMS, treatments will typically target whatever condition has been identified as the cause of your symptoms. While this may not necessarily mean that your path to recovery is swift or easy, it does generally mean that you have clear options for how to get better. Unfortunately, those with primary BMS lack these options and must rely on treatments aimed at mitigating symptoms.

Patients with primary burning mouth syndrome may benefit from certain pain relievers, antidepressants, or other medications; this determination should be made by a doctor. Some with primary BMS experience a cessation of symptoms when they eat or drink, while others suck on ice chips – a form of cryotherapy – to relieve pain. However, a more potent form of cryotherapy is available to BMS patients in the form of the Chemo Mouthpiece™.

Oral Ice Pack for People with Burning Mouth Syndrome

Though it was designed by a cancer survivor to treat oral mucositis, the Chemo Mouthpiece™ can benefit those with BMS by providing the same therapeutic benefits as ice chips without painful tooth sensitivity. The Chemo Mouthpiece™ has also been shown to effectively cool the entire oral cavity by as much as 30 degrees over the course of a half-hour treatment. Learn more about this powerful oral cryotherapy device by visiting the Chemo Mouthpiece™ website or calling (866) 461-7518 today.

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