What is burning mouth syndrome?

6 Dec


If you experience a burning sensation in your mouth that worsens with certain activities and is accompanied with a dry mouth; chances are that you are suffering from burning mouth syndrome.

Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS) is a condition that is often challenging to manage and can result in a poor quality of life for the patient. It is characterised by a persistent burning sensation in the mouth, especially the tongue and lips. The burning sensation is at times accompanied by dry mouth and altered taste perception. That is why this condition is called a syndrome.

There are no lesions or ulcers seen in the mouth. Burning or pain will be experienced constantly for at least 4–6 months, and is continuous throughout the day. Certain activities can trigger the burning pain. You should try and keep a track of your symptoms to see what worsens the burning and when it happens.

When I see a patient with these symptoms, I usually take a detailed history and conduct a physical exam. Certain tests are ordered to investigate for any underlying condition that may be causing the symptoms. If an underlying disease is detected, treatment for that condition is initiated. If all tests are normal, we start the patient on medication therapy for BMS. The medication prescribed is according to the patient’s symptoms and overall medical history. I usually like to try local application medication before advising any pills to be swallowed.

The treatment for BMS is not standardised and what works for one patient may not work for another. It usually takes a few weeks before patients notice any change in symptoms. It is very important to remain calm and communicate efficiently with the doctor. Stress can aggravate the symptoms so keep in mind that the management of BMS is a marathon and not a sprint.