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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Burning Mouth Syndrome Remains a Mystery

Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is described as a scalding sensation in the tongue, lips, palate or throughout the mouth, which can be very painful and frustrating. This is the same feeling that one gets after drinking something hot and burning the tongue and mouth. The only difference being that in normal circumstances, the scalding sensation subsides within a day or two, whereas in the condition of the burning mouth syndrome, it continues to persist for months to years.
It can affect anyone, but mostly occurs in middle-aged or older women and often occurs with a range of medical and dental conditions, from nutritional deficiencies and menopause to dry mouth and allergies. However, its connection and the exact cause of burning mouth syndrome are still very unclear and cannot be identified with any certainty.

According to a recent study, the damage to the nervous system during menopause may be to blame. "The cause of BMS is currently unknown, but our findings support the theory that this is a neuropathic condition," says lead study author Gary D. Klasser, DMD. "For reasons unknown, it seems that the BMS patient's nerves are not sending and/or processing information correctly there's a short circuit in the nervous system and the brain can't turn off the pain receptors."

The article with the findings of this study was published in the May/June 2011 issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

According to the report, nearly 5 percent of Americans were affected by BMS and suffered from a constant burning sensation most commonly on the top of the tongue, lower lip, and roof of the mouth. Although it affected both the sexes, but it was found to affect the women seven times more than men in their menopausal and post-menopausal years.

"For a small percentage of women, it is these hormonal changes that may alter taste and the way in which a person interprets pain," says Dr. Klasser. "The alterations may be enough to start the cascade of events that lead to BMS."

Since the condition lacks any physical evidence, it can be very difficult for many health practitioners to recognize the condition, diagnose it and manage BMS effectively. Most of the health practitioners may not even be familiar with this condition. This causes many patients to leave the doctors office in frustration and remain untreated.

"Besides reporting oral burning, patients describe experiencing a dry, gritty feeling in the mouth, as well as alterations in taste," says AGD Spokesperson Eugene Antenucci, DDS, FAGD. Fortunately, “BMS is not a matter of life or death, but a matter of quality of life”, says Dr. Antenucci. Patients who suffer from this condition should seek out a dentist or health practitioner who has experience and knowledge about this condition for its effective treatment and management. And although there is currently no cure for this condition, the symptoms can be managed quite effectively with the help of topical and systemic medications. The patients are advised to consult their doctor to determine the medication that is best suited for them.

Drinking lots of water throughout the day is a very effective way to help alleviate symptoms of Burning mouth syndrome, without taking medication, as it keeps the mouth lubricated. In addition, avoid spicy food, hot and acidic foods that can aggravate the symptoms or chew on sugarless gum to increase the flow of saliva in the mouth. Tobacco and alcohol products are also known to cause irritation to the oral tissues and therefore its best to avoid them.

Original Article Posted on Xomba

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