Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS)

Burning mouth syndrome facts*

*Burning mouth syndrome facts medical author:

  • Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) describes a painful sensation of the tongue, lips, or palate. It also may involve a general sensation of discomfort of the whole mouth.
  • Burning mouth syndrome can result from a number of causes; BMS is not itself a disease, but describes symptoms.
  • In addition to pain, other symptoms may include tingling or numbness, a metallic taste, and dry mouth.
  • There are many different potential causes of burning mouth syndrome and diagnosis may require examination of the mouth, as well as evaluation for illnesses and diseases that can affect other organs of the body.
  • On occasion, no obvious diagnosis or cause for burning mouth syndrome can be found.
  • Treatment options are tailored to the cause of the syndrome.

Burning mouth syndrome introduction

Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is a painful, frustrating condition often described as a scalding sensation in the tongue, lips, palate, or throughout the mouth. Although BMS can affect anyone, it occurs most commonly in middle-aged or older women.

BMS often occurs with a range of medical and dental conditions, from nutritional deficiencies and menopause to dry mouth and allergies. But their connection is unclear, and the exact cause of burning mouth syndrome cannot always be identified with certainty.

What are signs and symptoms of burning mouth syndrome?

Moderate to severe burning in the mouth is the main symptom of BMS and can persist for months or years. For many people, the burning sensation begins in late morning, builds to a peak by evening, and often subsides at night. Some feel constant pain; for others, pain comes and goes. Anxiety and depression are common in people with burning mouth syndrome and may result from their chronic pain.

Other symptoms of BMS include:

  • tingling or numbness on the tip of the tongue or in the mouth
  • bitter or metallic changes in taste
  • dry or sore mouth.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/18/2014

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