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What Can Cause Burning Mouth Syndrome?

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

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What Can Cause Burning Mouth Syndrome?

If you’ve ever burned your tongue on hot food or beverages, you’re probably familiar with some of the common symptoms of burning mouth syndrome (BMS). This ailment is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, and it affects many people each year, especially post-menopausal women.

Determining the exact cause of BMS in a person can be difficult, however, as the mechanisms by which these patients are made to feel pain are still unclear in many cases. That said, there are some patients with burning mouth syndrome who are able to receive effective treatment for the condition, while others aim to mitigate their pain with things like ice chips.

Though it was created by a cancer survivor to treat oral mucositis, the Chemo Mouthpiece™ can be useful to all those who rely on ice chips and other forms of oral cryotherapy, including people with BMS. Keep reading to learn more about this condition and how the Chemo Mouthpiece™ can help.

What Does Burning Mouth Syndrome Feel Like?

For some patients, the name “burning mouth syndrome” says it all, but for others, the moniker isn’t entirely accurate. Patients with BMS may well experience a burning or scalding sensation throughout their oral cavity along with their tongue, lips, cheeks, gums, or palate, but others feel something else. Patients with BMS sometimes report tingling sensations or numbness instead, and symptoms like dry mouth, excessive thirst, and changes in taste are not uncommon.

The frequency of symptoms can vary as well. In some patients, the sensations of burning or tingling can last throughout the day with little change, whereas other patients may see their symptoms wax and wane or worsen as the day progresses. Depending on the cause, BMS can stay with a person for months or years.

The Two Types of BMS

A person diagnosed with BMS will fall into one of two categories. Though the symptoms are much the same, the patient’s final diagnosis will depend on one specific factor: whether the patient’s doctor is able to identify an underlying cause for their symptoms.

In many cases, BMS does not come with an obvious cause and therefore can be very difficult to treat. For those whom this is the case and are diagnosed with burning mouth syndrome; those with BMS caused by another identifiable medical issue are diagnosed with secondary burning mouth syndrome.

Secondary Burning Mouth Syndrome

When a patient first reports the signs of burning mouth syndrome to their doctor, they will often be subjected to a battery of tests aimed at identifying the cause of their symptoms. These tests include the following:

  • Blood tests
  • Oral biopsies or cultures
  • Imaging tests
  • Salivary flow tests
  • Medication adjustments
  • Allergy tests
  • Acid reflux tests

If your doctor is able to determine a cause for your BMS symptoms, you will likely be diagnosed with “secondary” burning mouth syndrome. This is generally good news, as it means that you have a cause that can be treated, as opposed to symptoms without an obvious source – a problem that is much more difficult to address.

Primary Burning Mouth Syndrome

Some of the time, patients with BMS have symptoms without the benefit of an obvious source. These patients are said to have “primary” burning mouth syndrome, which can prove nearly impossible to treat or cure. Most people with primary BMS simply have to mitigate their symptoms as best they can to improve their quality of life.

Common Causes of Burning Mouth Syndrome

Depending on whether you are diagnosed with primary or secondary burning mouth syndrome, nailing down the cause of your symptoms can be easy or next to impossible. By definition, primary BMS does not have an identifiable cause, though researchers theorize that damage to the nerves controlling taste and pain in the mouth is to blame (Source).

Patients with secondary BMS, on the other hand, may have one of many ailments to blame for their condition. The testing of patients with secondary burning mouth syndrome often reveals that one of the following problems is the cause of patients’ suffering:

  • Allergies or sensitivities to foods, food additives, dyes, fragrances, or the materials used in dental work
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also called acid reflux
  • Disorders of the endocrine system, including diabetes or hypothyroidism
  • Excessive dry mouth, which can be the result of a number of different disorders or treatments, including as a side effect of chemotherapy
  • Medications for high blood pressure
  • Infections in the mouth, such as thrush, oral lichen planus, or yeast infections
  • Nutritional deficiencies, such as those caused by a lack of iron, zinc, or vitamin B
  • Poor oral habits, such as teeth grinding, tongue thrusting, overbrushing of the tongue, or drinking overly acidic beverages
  • Psychological conditions, including stress, anxiety, or depression

Whatever the underlying cause of your burning mouth syndrome, the best course of action is generally to focus on that condition to eliminate your oral discomfort. If you have BMS or suspect that you may have this ailment, talk to your doctor to learn more.

Oral Cryotherapy Device for People with Burning Mouth Syndrome

Whether you have primary or secondary burning mouth syndrome, you would benefit from the use of an oral cryotherapy device. Many people with BMS use ice cubes or chips to cool their mouths and find relief; the Chemo Mouthpiece™ does the same thing, only much more effectively.

To learn more about how this simple, easy-to-use oral cryotherapy device can help you or a loved one with burning mouth syndrome, visit us online or call (866) 461-7518 today.

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