Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS) is a very painful and debilitating condition that has remained a mystery for a long time. The causes or etiologies of this condition is listed below along with some useful treatment regimens. Consult a biological dentistry professional if you suspect you have BMS.
Burning Mouth Syndrome Etiology (Causes)
- DYSFUNCTIONAL CRANIAL NERVES
- DAMAGE TO TRIGEMINAL AFFERENT TASTE NERVE FIBERS
- ALTERED SYMPATHETIC OUTPUT RELATED TO STRESS
- MEDICATIONS, ESP., ACE INHIBITORS
- INCREASED STRESS
- VITAMIN DEFICIENCIES, esp, folate and all B-vitamins, iron and zinc.
- ALLERGIC REACTIONS TO FOOD AND TOXINS
- HEAVY METAL TOXICITY, ESP MERCURY FILLINGS
- GERD AND GI DISTRESS
- DRY MOUTH
- HORMONAL DEFICIENCIES or ENDOCRINE DISORDERS, esp., HYPOTHYROIDISM
- DIABETES causing DIABETIC NEUROPATHY
- CGRP, CALCITONIN GENE-RELATED COMPLEX, a protein that is implicated in migraines by causing dilation of blood vessels
What You NEED to Know about Burning Mouth Syndrome
Does your mouth or tongue constantly feel like it has been scalded by a large gulp of hot tea or coffee? Many people live with this chronic pain daily, unsure where to go to find relief from these troubling symptoms. Burning mouth syndrome, sometimes referred to as stomadynia or glossodynia, can leave you begging for some relief.
Symptoms of Burning Mouth Syndrome
- A burning or scalding sensation on the tongue, lips, gums, palate, throat, or the entire mouth
- Dry mouth with increased thirst
- Taste changes including a bitter or metallic taste
- Loss of taste
- Tingling, stinging, or numbness in the mouth
For some people, these symptoms occur consistently from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep. For others, the pain may gradually build as the day progresses. In some cases, the pain comes and goes seemingly at random.
Along with all of the potential symptoms of this condition, there are a few risk factors that increase your odds of experiencing this extreme discomfort. According to research studies, women are almost five times more likely than men to develop this condition. The odds increase if you are either peri-menopausal or postmenopausal.
In addition, adults over the age of fifty tend to be more likely to be diagnosed with burning mouth syndrome.
Causes of Burning Mouth Syndrome
Unfortunately, not much is known about the specific mechanisms that cause BMS. Many people bounce around to several different specialists before determining a potential cause for their stomadynia or glossodynia. If you experience any of the symptoms listed above for an extended period of time, you should start by seeing your primary care physician.
A primary care physician can take a thorough medical history, perform a physical examination of the mouth, and order important bloodwork tests that could reveal the underlying cause. He or she may even refer you to several specialists to rule out some of the potential underlying causes. While this is a great starting point, there are many potential primary conditions that could be causing your burning mouth syndrome.
BMS can either be diagnosed as a primary disorder or a secondary disorder. In a primary disorder, no lab results or test results indicate that there is a specific cause for your pain. Secondary disorders are the direct result of another major underlying condition, such as those seen below. This is what makes burning mouth syndrome so difficult to diagnose and treat. Take a look at some of these common causes and discuss their potential role in your burning mouth syndrome with your physicians.
Dysfunctional Cranial Nerves
While the exact mechanisms are not widely understood, recent studies are making headway on potential causes for this benign yet painful condition. According to researchers, burning mouth syndrome could be the result of dysfunctional cranial nerves. These specific nerves are associated with taste sensation, resulting in the bitter or metallic taste that many individuals experience along with their “scalded” tongue.
Damage to Trigeminal Afferent Taste Nerve Fibers
Many doctors believe that burning mouth syndrome is ultimately a neuropathic pain syndrome. Essentially, they believe that it is ultimately caused by damaged nerve fibers. Research studies may support this claim as it appears that damage to the trigeminal afferent taste nerve fibers does lead to an intensified sensation in the mouth. It is thought that the chorda tympani nerve supplies taste to the tongue while the lingual nerve mediates the response. When there is damage to these nerve fibers, burning mouth syndrome often develops.
Dry mouth is one of the main symptoms associated with BMS. Doctors are uncertain, but it could be an etiologic factor in the development of burning mouth syndrome. Consuming certain foods like those that contain xylitol can increase saliva flow and help to relieve symptoms that may be associated with dry mouth.
Studies have demonstrated that there is actually a difference in salivary components when there is an altered sympathetic output directly related to stress. The difference in salivary components including mucin, IgA, phosphates, pH levels, and electrical resistance could be a contributing factor to your condition. An increase in stress could throw these levels off balance, directly causing an increase in your symptoms.
In order to regulate the sympathetic nervous system and potentially relieve some of the pain, many doctors will prescribe stress management practices. Meditation, yoga, journaling, and even taking a hot bath to unwind could make a major difference in your burning mouth syndrome. Find areas in your life where you can reduce your stress levels to see if it makes a difference in your condition.
Depression and Anxiety
Mood changes commonly occur alongside burning mouth syndrome, making it difficult to determine whether they are the cause or the result. Chronic pain can easily trigger an episode of depression or anxiety. However, it is also possible for the mood change to cause symptoms related to burning mouth in susceptible individuals. Doctors may find that treating the mood disorder with antidepressants or cognitive behavioral therapy is an excellent treatment that should be considered for burning mouth syndrome.
Certain types of medications, most notably ACE inhibitors, are frequently associated with the painful symptoms of burning mouth syndrome. It is believed that these medications can cause increased levels of kallikrein in the saliva, triggering inflammation throughout the mouth.
Candidiasis in the mouth can ultimately lead to thrush, a condition that is remarkably similar to burning mouth syndrome. It can be difficult to diagnose at first glance because the presentation in the mouth is different than expected. Instead of white texture, oral candidiasis often presents with grooves in the tongue and red areas around the corners of the mouth.
If you or your primary care physician suspect that you may be dealing with burning mouth syndrome as a result of oral thrush caused by candidiasis, be sure to test for it. This involves taking a sample from the affected area (in this case, the mouth) and sending it off to a lab to see how it develops in a culture. Treating the candidiasis is the key to relieving your burning mouth symptoms.
A few things you can do at home to begin to eliminate symptoms of oral thrush include:
- Limiting foods with yeast such as beers, breads, and wine
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine that can worsen your dry mouth symptoms
- Change your toothbrush frequently
- Sip water frequently after eating
- Refrain from smoking
- Avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol
Some research studies are pointing to the fact that burning mouth could be caused by a wide variety of vitamin deficiencies. In particular, it seems to correspond with a deficiency of all B-vitamins, iron, zinc, and folate. Determining whether burning mouth syndrome could be caused by these deficiencies is easy with Spectracell testing. This micronutrient test will tell you where you may be lacking in 35 different nutritional components.
After receiving your results, you can develop a plan with your doctor to supplement your diet with the appropriate vitamins and minerals. Many people find success treating their glossodynia by increasing all B-vitamins in their diet.
It may be worthwhile to request that your doctor send you for allergy testing. If your BMS seems to come and go at random, you may actually be experiencing an allergic reaction. You could be allergic to the food, flavorings, additives, dyes, or any other component of a specific product. If this is the suspected cause of your burning mouth syndrome, then eliminating that food from your diet should be a great way to resolve your discomfort.
Heavy Metal Toxicity
Heavy metal toxicity, particularly in relation or mercury fillings, is another potential contributing factor to your burning mouth syndrome. The heavy metals can cause an allergic reaction and hypersensitivity on and around the tongue. Replacing the mercury fillings with another substance usually results in symptoms subsiding.
GERD and GI Distress
One of the primary symptoms of burning mouth syndrome is the taste of something bitter in your mouth. With GERD and GI distress, you may be particularly prone to this bitter taste as fluids come into the mouth directly from the digestive tract. These harsh fluids can cause irritation on the tongue and mouth, ultimately resulting in irritation and burning mouth syndrome. Calming the digestive tract is one way to minimize your symptoms of burning mouth syndrome.
Hormonal Deficiencies or Endocrine Disorders
Hormonal imbalances are one of the leading causes of burning mouth syndrome, which explains why perimenopausal and postmenopausal women appear to be at a greater risk for glossodynia. The subtle changes in hormone levels can affect the saliva and lead to inflammation in the mouth.
Similarly, endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism can also lead to burning mouth syndrome. In these situations, the mouth is responding to high blood sugar levels that are associated with an underactive thyroid. Getting your endocrine levels and hormone levels under control can greatly reduce your symptoms.
Much like hypothyroidism, diabetes and high blood sugar levels can correlate with burning mouth syndrome. However, you may also develop diabetic neuropathy that can cause your stomadynia or glossodynia. Consistently high blood sugar levels can injure nerves throughout the body, including those found in the tongue and mouth. Managing your diabetes and preventing the spread of diabetic neuropathy should be paramount. Discuss these symptoms with your doctor to form a plan for how to best manage your blood glucose levels.
Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide (CGRP)
Calcitonin gene-related peptide, a protein implicated in migraines for the dilation of blood vessels, may also be related to your burning mouth syndrome. Research studies are showing that CGRP plays an important role in the development of pain and could be a marker for trigeminovascular activation. Patients with burning mouth syndrome tended to have lower levels of CGRP, a finding that suggests that trigeminal nerve degeneration could be a cause of burning mouth syndrome.
Potential Solutions for Burning Mouth Syndrome
While some of the solutions are directly related to the potential cause of your burning mouth syndrome, there are a few general remedies that may help to relieve symptoms throughout the day. Try a few of these home remedies to gain a little bit of relief from stomadynia.
Special compounded lozenges with R-ALA, B-vitamins, and capsaicin could be a great natural solution. R-ALA is a specific antioxidant that binds with free radicals, assisting in the reparation of potential nerve damage. B-vitamins are a leading cause of burning mouth syndrome, so adding them to your diet in this way is simple and easy. Last but not least, capsaicin is great for desensitization caused by potential cranial nerve injury.
Rinsing your mouth with capsaicin (hot pepper) and water once or twice a day is another great way to eliminate some of the symptoms of your burning mouth syndrome. Hot pepper should always be diluted in water in a 1:2 ratio. Mix up one teaspoon and rinse your mouth thoroughly.
Alternatively, you could consume more spicy foods instead of rinsing with capsaicin. Any foods with hot pepper in them should give you a small dose of capsaicin. Keep in mind that these spicy foods may lead to GI issues that can worsen burning mouth syndrome if you are consuming too much of them.
Argentyn-23, also referred to as colloidal silver, is a great product to use for burning mouth syndrome. Swish it around your mouth four times per day and spit it out. It should help with inflammation and swelling in the mouth that could be contributing to your burning mouth syndrome.
Increase Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Alpha-lipoic acid is an important free radical that can work to repair cranial nerve damage that may be causing your glossodynia. By taking a 600-milligram supplement twice a day, you can ensure that your diet is rich with alpha-lipoic acid. You may also want to add certain foods to your diet including spinach, yams, potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots.
Use Xylitol Gum and Mints
Chewing on gum or sucking on mints that contain xylitol can be extraordinarily helpful for those who experience the dry mouth that leads to pain with burning mouth syndrome. Both of these items increase the flow of saliva in your mouth which can bring some much-needed relief.
Brush Your Teeth with Baking Soda
If you are experiencing serious pain with your burning mouth syndrome, you may want to try applying a little baking soda. Brush your teeth with baking soda morning and night to neutralize some of the acid that may be directly linked to your pain. If you need some relief midday, you may choose to dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of warm water and rinse as needed.
Limit Certain Ingredients
Some ingredients can make your burning mouth syndrome feel even worse than it already does. Whenever and wherever possible, you should absolutely avoid smoking. The ingredients and the heat from the lit cigarette can cause further irritation that worsens your overall symptoms. Other apparently benign products can also cause more irritation including cinnamon, peppermint, soda pop, and anything containing sodium laurel sulfate. Limit these ingredients as much as possible.
Sometimes, you may have to turn to pharmaceuticals in order to help you relieve the symptoms of your burning mouth syndrome. Klonopin, also known as clonazepam, has been demonstrated to be highly effective at treating burning mouth syndrome. This medication is technically a benzodiazepine that calms the central nervous system and is used to treat anxiety.
However, patients with burning mouth syndrome have also shown promising results when given clonazepam. At low doses, it offers very few side effects but a potentially significant reduction in pain. You should take anywhere from 0.25 to 2 milligrams at bedtime, increasing the dosage by 0.25 milligrams per week.
Natural Treatments for BMS
- TEST FOR CANDIDA and NUTRIENTS, (SPECTROCELL TEST), then treat the Candidiasis!
- INCREASE ALL B-VITAMINS
- DECREASE STRESS, normalize the Sympathetic Nervous System
- COMPOUNDED LOZENGES: made with, R-ALA, B-Vitamins and Capscacin.
- ARGENTYN-23, 4 TIMES PER DAY
- CAPSCACIN: HOT PEPPER, 1TSP@ 1:2 DILUTION RATIO
- INCREASE ALPHA- LIPOIC -ACID 600 MG, BID.
- USE: XYLITOL GUM, MINTS and MOUTHWASH
- USE: BAKING SODA TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH
- NO: SMOKING, CINNAMIN, MINT, SODA POP, SODIUM LAUREL SULFATE,
- SPICY HOT FOODS, ACIDIC COMPOUNDS and CAFFEINE
Last Resort: The Pharmaceutical Route
KLONOPIN, clonazepam: .25-2 mg, hs., increase .25mg per week, as a LAST RESORT!
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