Public Release: 

Burning mouth syndrome

Anxious? depressed? extinguish pain by analyzing overall health

Academy of General Dentistry

Burning mouth syndrome (BMS), a painful disorder affecting mostly women, is a constant and aggravating source of discomfort for more than 1 million adults.

Patients' experience a burning sensation in their mouth, palate, lips and tongue, as well as partial or complete loss of taste, dry mouth and thirst.

New findings explain how anxiety and depression may be a precursor that triggers this difficult-to-diagnose syndrome, according to a new report that will be published in the September/October 2003 issue of General Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) clinical, peer-reviewed journal.

Oral habits of anxiety and depression may include repetitive tongue thrusting and bruxism (teeth grinding) which can irritate the mouth and lips and have been reported to cause BMS symptoms in up to 70 percent of patients suffering from this chronic disorder.

"Pinpointing the pain source can be a trying task for patients and their health care providers," explains Andres Pinto, DMD, lead report author, who states more females in their 20's and 30's are also experiencing this syndrome, oftentimes due to stress.

Other overall health conditions linked to BMS include anemia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, undiagnosed diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalance and a yeast or candida infection in the mouth.

"If you have BMS, analyze your overall health and note any life-altering events or stressors that occur," encourages Lois Duerst, DDS, FAGD, spokesperson for the AGD.

According to Dr. Pinto, some patients experience relief after stopping their oral habits brought on by stress.

Do You Have BMS? Check For:

  • Burning sensations in mouth area

  • Dry mouth

  • Altered taste perception

  • Changes in eating habits

  • Irritability

  • Depression

  • Changes in medications

Possible Treatments:

  • Antifungal therapy
  • Vitamin and mineral replacements
  • Creams or lozenges containing capsaicin
  • Hormonal replacement
  • Antidepressants
  • Mental health counseling
  • Intraoral appliances


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