Burning tongue syndrome is more appropriately known as burning mouth syndrome. A person affected by it feels a burning sensation all over his/her mouth.
Also known as glossodynia, burning mouth syndrome causes the tongue, gums, lips, roof of the mouth, inside of the cheeks and other areas of the mouth to pain. And this pain is worsened by a burning sensation. The pain is chronic in most cases, and worsens with time. This condition is reported to be more common in menopausal women.
The main symptom of burning mouth syndrome is the burning pain that it causes. Mostly, the pain occurs suddenly and without any warning. The tip of the tongue may lose sensation, or have a tingling sensation. Other symptoms that may accompany include dry mouth, increased thirst, reduced sense of taste, and mouth soreness.
Most people report having a metallic taste or they may find lining of the mouth slimy or sticky. The condition is limited to the mouth and does not affect any part of the face. Given its painful symptoms, the burning mouth syndrome may severely interfere with a person’s sleep. And that is why, secondary symptoms such as irritability, depression, mood changes, fatigue, etc., may also occur.
There are no known causes of burning mouth syndrome. But factors which could contribute to its onset may include nutritional deficiency, poorly fitting dentures, depression, anemia, type-2 diabetes, hormonal changes, fungal infection in the mouth, allergies, excessive use of mouthwash, certain medications, or damage to the nerves that control pain and taste. Sometimes, psychological factors may be behind the condition.
Often burning tongue syndrome has no identifiable cause and this makes treating the condition difficult. In such cases, the treatment is aimed at managing the symptoms. There is no specific treatment plan for this condition, and so patients are recommended to try several methods and identify which one works the best to control the symptoms.
Doctors usually try to identify if a patient has any of the above cited contributing factors, and recommend appropriate treatment for the same. For instance, if the patient has poorly fitting dentures, then he/she may be recommended to get them changed. Likewise, if the patient has diabetes or any other preexisting condition, then treating it may relieve the burning mouth syndrome. Nutritional deficiencies may be addressed to by supplements, and medicines may be altered. To deal with the pain in the mouth, prescription pain relievers may be recommended.
Some Self-Care Measures
Apart from following what the doctor recommends, you can follow a few self-care measures at home to keep yourself comfortable.
- Rinse your mouth with cold apple juice to soothe the burning pain.
- Chew on a sugar free gum or suck on ice chips.
- Avoid brushing your teeth too much or too frequently.
- Brush your teeth with baking soda instead of commercial toothpastes.
- Avoid acidic-foods as they may aggravate the burning pain in the mouth.
- Drink plenty of fluids including water to prevent dry mouth as it worsens the burning pain.
- You can also apply glycerin to the tongue to get some relief from the pain and burning sensation.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol.
Given the uncertainty of the exact cause of burning mouth syndrome, there is no specific way to prevent its onset. All you can do is follow what your doctor recommends, and note what factors aggravate the symptoms and take steps to avoid them. Although stress does not directly cause burning mouth syndrome, it may worsen its symptoms.
That is why most doctors advise their patients to inculcate stress relieving techniques such as yoga and meditation. Engaging in pleasurable activities such as hobbies, and seeking support from friends and family also help in coping with the condition. In many parts of the world people with this condition have formed groups where they can interact with one another and discuss ways to improve the condition.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.