Burning mouth syndrome is a rare condition in which patients have a persistent or recurrent feeling of burning in the mouth with no known cause. While the condition is benign, it can be very unpleasant, and there is currently no cure. The symptoms most commonly associated with burning mouth syndrome include a sensation of burning, scalding, or tingling in the mouth. This sensation can occur on a daily basis, and it may persist for months or years. Patients may also experience dry mouth, increased thirst, a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth, and a change in the way food tastes. Burning mouth syndrome is most frequently diagnosed in patients over sixty years old, and it is diagnosed five times more often in women than it is in men. Both doctors and dentists can help in the diagnosis and treatment of burning mouth syndrome.
Some of the most common treatments for burning mouth syndrome are discussed below.
Nerve Pain Blocking Medication
Nerve pain blocking medication may be particularly helpful for many patients with burning mouth syndrome. There are numerous types of medications that reduce nerve pain, and these work by reducing the activity of nerve fibers. Typically, doctors choose to prescribe medications that are also used for the treatment of depression, anxiety, and seizures. These medicines are especially helpful in reducing nerve pain, and patients with burning mouth syndrome are prescribed lower doses of these medicines than they would be prescribed for other conditions. Amitriptyline, nortriptyline doxepin, clonazepam, and gabapentin are commonly prescribed. Although these medications may cause sleepiness, they can generally be taken at night, and this can promote high-quality sleep while reducing daytime drowsiness. When patients first use this class of medication, they should be especially vigilant when driving and operating heavy machinery. They may need to take extra precautions until they know how the medication affects them, and driving immediately after taking one of these medications is not recommended. Patients should also avoid consuming alcohol while on these pills. In addition to prescription options, some patients have found relief through the use of over-the-counter pain remedies such as alpha lipoic acid and topical capsaicin.
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Special Oral Rinses
Special oral rinses may be prescribed by dentists and doctors during treatment for burning mouth syndrome. These rinses typically contain pain relievers and may also have antiseptic properties. For example, many of these rinses contain lidocaine or capsaicin, two different types of pain relievers. Some patients may also be given oral rinses containing clonazepam, a pain-relieving medication originally used to treat seizures. Most oral rinses will need to be used at least once or twice per day, and patients should follow their healthcare provider's instructions as to the dosage and frequency of use. In addition to oral rinses, dentists may prescribe prescription-strength toothpaste to be used prior to the rinse itself. This kind of toothpaste can help reduce mouth sensitivity overall, and they may make it easier to eat. When using any prescription product, patients should let their dentist and doctor know if any unusual side effects or new symptoms develop. If pain persists even with the use of a rinse, additional medicines may be prescribed to improve symptom management.
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Treat Underlying Condition
For some patients, burning mouth syndrome develops due to an underlying medical condition. This form of the condition is known as secondary burning mouth syndrome. Some of the underlying conditions associated with this secondary form of burning mouth syndrome are dry mouth, fungal infections, gastroesophageal reflux disease, diabetes, and hypothyroidism. Burning mouth syndrome may also develop due to deficiencies in iron, B vitamins, zinc, and folate, and it is a known side effect of medicines used to treat hypertension. To treat an underlying condition of burning mouth syndrome, doctors will monitor patients regularly, and several types of prescription medicines and home remedies may be advised. Specialist referrals might be necessary, and patients should always be honest and open with their doctors about the symptoms they are experiencing. To improve treatment outcomes, doctors may advise patients to make dietary changes. For example, alcohol, spicy foods, cinnamon, and mint should all be avoided, and patients may wish to slowly eliminate acidic items like coffee, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits and juices, and tomatoes from their diets.
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Saliva Replacement Products
Saliva replacement products can help relieve dry mouth and reduce the stinging and tingling associated with this condition. Currently, most doctors and dentists recommend using artificial saliva substitutes and rinses that moisturize the mouth. Rinses containing xylitol may be particularly beneficial for some patients, and xylitol can also reduce the elevated risk of tooth decay associated with dry mouth. In addition to saliva replacement products, many patients find prescription medicines designed to stimulate saliva production are useful to treat burning mouth syndrome. Pilocarpine and cevimeline are two examples of saliva-stimulating medicines. While taking these medicines, patients should be aware of potential side effects. Common side effects of pilocarpine include nausea, diarrhea, sweating, frequent urination, chills, flushing, and dizziness. Patients taking cevimeline may also experience constipation, weakness, muscle pain, loss of appetite, and drooling. If these side effects are persistent or severe, a healthcare provider might be able to switch the patient to another, more tolerable medication.
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Drink Plenty Of Fluids
Patients with burning mouth syndrome may experience improved symptom management if they drink plenty of fluids. Sufficient fluid intake helps the mouth remain moist, and this can soothe pain and reduce unpleasant tingling or scalding sensations. Some patients find sucking on ice chips or ice pops provides substantial relief, and drinking water instead of milk or juice may also be useful. Broths, soups, smoothies, and ice cream may help as well. For burning mouth syndrome patients who have moderate to severe symptoms, it could be beneficial to consult with a nutritionist or with a healthcare provider who specializes in this condition. These professionals can help patients develop meal plans and incorporate home remedies that provide the best chance for relief from burning mouth syndrome.