Learn about getting a comprehensive orofacial pain evaluation and become an educated patient.
Burning mouth syndrome (BMS), also known as glossodynia, is a relatively rare condition that causes a burning sensation in your mouth with no obvious cause. This feeling is often compared to taking a large gulp of hot soup or coffee; it may also feel boiling, scorching, dry, tingling, rough/sandy, or stinging. BMS affects 2% of the general population; women are seven times more likely to have BMS than men. Of the women diagnosed, post-menopausal women are more likely to be diagnosed with BMS.
The burning mouth sensation is typically felt on the tip, sides, and/or top of the tongue, but can also occur on the roof of the mouth, and inside the area of the lips. You may also experience the sensation on your gums and/or inside of your cheeks. The burning can be in one or many of these areas at the same time, and can start suddenly or increase in intensity over time. The sensation may be constant or intermittent (come and go).
BMS can be quite uncomfortable and disturbing, but it is a benign condition- it does not endanger your health. The feeling is usually chronic, lasting over a period of weeks, months, or longer. BMS might follow a pattern for you- for example, it might start mildly in the morning, increasing in intensity during the day.
There may or may not be an underlying cause for your BMS. In attempting to get a diagnosis and treatment to relieve BMS, many people visit their dentist, general practitioner, dermatologist, ENT and other medical specialists. Your doctor will likely attempt to rule out underlying conditions such as:
In the absence of an underlying cause, research suggests that BMS can be a neuropathic pain syndrome, caused by malfunctioning nerves and may be due to injury of the trigeminal nerve, or nerve fibers in the tongue. Psychiatric disorders such as depression and PTSD may be linked to BMS. TMD, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia may be contributing factors.
Your doctor will examine you and listen to your explanation of your symptoms and history. You may have tests such as blood work, oral cultures, allergy testing or tissue biopsy to rule out underlying conditions. Your doctor may refer you to a dental expert if BMS is diagnosed.
Treatment for BMS aims to lessen your symptoms. From 50% to 66% of people with BMS will experience some degree of improvement with treatment over a few weeks or months. You may have to try a number of therapies to find the best one or combination for you. Cognitive behavior interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy can be successful at helping you minimize your discomfort with BMS. There are also at-home or homeopathic treatments you may try- remember to check with your doctor before you do.
You may determine if certain foods or products trigger your BMS. If so, you can minimize or eliminate your exposure to them. Some common BMS triggers are:
Dr. Derek Steinbacher, Director of Craniofacial Surgery, Yale Medicine, Chief of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery and Dentistry, FPA Medical Advisory Board member, reviews migraines, TMJ disorders, and dental pain.
Dr. Wolfgang Liedtke will discuss medical treatment of trigeminal neuropathic pain with Dr. Jeffrey Brown.
Wolfgang Liedtke, M.D. Ph.D. is Chair of Neurology, Global Development Scientific Council at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Prior to that, he was Professor in the Departments of Neurology, Anesthesiology and Neurobiology; Attending Physician, Duke Neurology Clinics and Clinics for Innovative Pain Therapy, serving patients there for over 17 years.
Dr. Mark Linskey, Dr. Richard Zimmerman, and Megan Hamilton discuss what to look for in the decision making process when you are trying to find a doctor and treatment for facial pain.
Hossein Ansari, MD Director of Headache and Facial Pain Clinic at Kaizen Brain Center Facial pain can be due to a variety of medical conditions. The structure of the face […]
Jennifer M. Wagner, Executive Director of the Western Pain Society, explains the brain-body connection with an emphasis on pain response and provides a list of strategies for those affected by chronic pain.
Dr. Larry Arbeitman will answer: What is Upper Cervical Chiropractic? How does is differ from traditional Chiropractic methods? Learn about the connection between the Upper Cervical Spine and Facial Pain, research and case studies, what you can expect from UCC and how you can integrate it into your healthcare plan. You will also be able to ask Dr. Arbeitman your questions during this live presentation.
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Dr. Leesa Scott-Morrow will discuss anxiety in people with facial pain.This webinar will introduce the brain mechanisms that are involved in the experience of fear and anxiety, including discussion of […]
In this webinar, Dr. Jeffrey Brown, Chairman of the FPA Medical Advisory Board, talks about the top questions patients and their loved ones have regarding trigeminal neuralgia.
Can Hormones Affect Facial Pain? Some women experience a change in their facial pain at various points in their menstrual cycles, when taking or stopping hormonal methods of birth control, […]
Dr. Raymond Sekula, Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Director of the Cranial Nerve Disorders Program at UPMC, and FPA Medical Advisory Board member reviews the challenges that can complicate the care of people with neuropathic facial pain.
Dr. Jeffrey Brown, Chairman of the Facial Pain Association’s Medical Advisory Board, interviews Dr. Hossein Ansari on medical causes of neuropathic facial pain.
Neuropathic facial pain is diagnosed almost exclusively by the individual’s description of the symptoms. Dr. Kim Burchiel developed a list of questions to help doctors determine exactly which classification may describe a […]
What is hemifacial spasm (HFS)? Hemifacial spasm (HFS) is a condition characterized by painless twitching of the muscles on one side of the face. The contractions are involuntary and occur […]
Dr. Deborah Barrett offers a framework and tools to help people improve their quality of life, just as they are, while also reducing pain and suffering. Her work draws from empirically based cognitive and behavioral interventions, and she practices what she preaches every day.
Facial pain can be described in many words…but if you had to choose just one, what would it be? The YPC recently shared how we would describe TN in one word and how we plan to overcome TN.
Dr. Julie Pilitsis, Chair of the Department of Neuroscience & Experimental Therapeutics Professor of Neurosurgery Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics, Albany Medical Center and FPA Medical Advisory Board member presents an overview of trigeminal neuralgia and other neuropathic facial pains.
Jeffrey A. Brown, MD, FACS, FAANS First, some basic requirements: there are a lot, but that is the point, too. Doctors educated in the United States are granted their MD […]
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