Is Burning Mouth Syndrome Dangerous?
The collection of painful symptoms that together constitute burning mouth syndrome (BMS) can make life difficult for those it afflicts. Patients with this condition often report significant discomfort that can last throughout the day and that has a severe negative impact on their quality of life. To make matters worse, finding ways to treat BMS can sometimes prove impossible, as a clear underlying cause for the condition might not become apparent, even after an array of tests and many visits to specialists.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with burning mouth syndrome, you probably have some questions about this illness. For instance, you might understandably ask: Is burning mouth syndrome dangerous, and is there anything I can do about it? To find out, keep reading as the people at Chemo Mouthpiece™ provide some answers.
What is Burning Mouth Syndrome?
For those unfamiliar with this uncomfortable ailment, burning mouth syndrome is the term for a condition in which patients experience lasting oral discomfort, which can take one of several forms. As the name implies, some people with BMS report feeling burning or scalding sensations like those you might feel after taking a sip of coffee or tea that was too hot; other patients say they feel tingling or numbness.
In either case, the sensations linked to BMS can affect a person’s entire mouth, or they can be limited to a specific area, such as the cheeks, tongue, lips, palate, or gums. Additional symptoms may include dry mouth, excessive thirst, or changes in a patient’s sense of taste.
In general, burning mouth syndrome tends to appear suddenly, with no discernable trigger, and it affects postmenopausal women at much greater rates than other demographics, though anyone might begin experiencing symptoms. Patients with burning mouth syndrome may have to deal with severe pain throughout the day, or their symptoms might wax and wane as the hours’ pass. Some patients say that their BMS starts as a minor discomfort in the morning that escalates as evening approaches (Source).
How Burning Mouth Syndrome is Diagnosed
Though it’s often referred to as a single ailment, burning mouth syndrome actually comes in two forms: primary BMS and secondary BMS. When you first tell your doctor about your symptoms, he or she will likely send you for a battery of tests to determine the cause. Tests used to diagnose burning mouth syndrome include the following:
- Oral cultures or biopsies
- Blood tests
- Allergy tests
- Imaging tests, such as MRIs or CT scans
- Salivary flow measurements
- Acid reflux tests
- Changes to any medication you might be taking
Not only will these examinations help find the cause of your symptoms, but they will ultimately determine which form of burning mouth syndrome you may have; those whose tests can identify a cause will be diagnosed with secondary BMS, while those who have no clear cause will be diagnosed with primary BMS.
How Dangerous is Burning Mouth Syndrome?
The one silver lining with burning mouth syndrome is that it doesn’t seem to be particularly dangerous. In fact, most people with BMS won’t have any visible changes to the affected tissues, even in extreme cases. Of course, this doesn’t mean that its impact on a patient’s everyday life is anything other than serious; many patients with burning mouth syndrome report difficulties eating or sleeping, along with a predictable increase in daily stress sometimes accompanied by depression or anxiety. However, a diagnosis of BMS should not be considered life-threatening (Source).
There is one important consideration to note, however: For some patients, burning mouth syndrome might be a sign of something greater. Possible causes of secondary BMS include the following:
- Extreme dry mouth, including as a side effect of chemotherapy
- Poor oral habits, like teeth grinding or overbrushing
- Allergies or sensitivities to foods, fragrances, or the materials used in dental work
- Disorders of the endocrine system, such as diabetes
- Oral infections, including those caused by bacteria or yeast
- A lack of important nutrients, namely zinc, iron, or vitamin B
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also called acid reflux
If it turns out that your BMS is caused by diabetes or something equally serious, it could indirectly represent a threat to your life. Talk to your doctor to learn more about the possible dangers of burning mouth syndrome.
Treating Your Burning Mouth Syndrome
For those with secondary burning mouth syndrome, treatment should be relatively simple. In your case, your doctor will likely target the underlying cause of your symptoms when devising the appropriate treatment, but those with primary BMS are less fortunate. In their case, treating BMS means finding ways to mitigate symptoms and improve quality of life.
Treatment options for primary BMS will vary in effectiveness from person to person, as no one treatment has yet been developed. Some patients have found success with certain medications, including those that treat nerve pain and some antidepressants. A more natural remedy for BMS is cryotherapy, the use of freezing temperatures, which has led many patients to chew or suck on ice chips to help with their pain. However, ice chips tend to only treat a small area.
Effective Oral Ice Pack for People with Burning Mouth Syndrome
Although it was originally designed to help with oral mucositis, the Chemo Mouthpiece™ has been shown to uniformly cool the entire oral cavity – just the thing to help with burning mouth syndrome. This specialized oral cryotherapy device can lower the temperature of the mouth by as much as 30 degrees over the course of a half-hour treatments, and it doesn’t produce the same tooth sensitivity that ice chips can. If you have BMS, try the Chemo Mouthpiece™ and see the difference firsthand; learn more by visiting us online or calling (866) 461-7518 today.