Getting Rid of that Burning Sensation: Speaking with Your Dentist About Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS)

Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS) affects anywhere from 0.7% to 4.6% of the general Australian population with most patients who are affected being between the ages of 55 and 60. Although its etiology is still not fully understood due to the lack of accurate diagnosis criteria, a dentist can help you diagnose the syndrome and propose practical and effective solutions to help ease the burn.

The Mysteries Surrounding the BMS

There is not a lot of medical information recorded for BMS; however, the main symptoms that patients often complain about include a burning, scalding or even a tingling sensation affecting the tongue or other oral tissues. Some patients also claim that they feel a numbing sensation, symptoms of dry mouth or even experience an altered tasting experience. BMS is generally rather persistent and can affect patients for months or years.

Diagnosis Between Primary and Secondary BMS

Depending on your medical history, your dentist, like those at Positive Dental Health, will typically request for a blood test, an oral swab test, an allergy test, a salivary flow test, a biopsy of the oral tissues and an imaging test to determine what the underlying cause of the BMS may be. Patients with no underlying medical conditions have primary BMS. Although the cause is largely unknown, many experts claim that primary BMS is due to nerve damage.

If other underlying medical conditions have been verified, then the patient may have secondary BMS. Generally speaking, most dentists recommend curing the underlying medical condition, and the BMS will typically resolve on its own. Some common underlying medical conditions that have been known to cause BMS include:

  • hormonal changes from conditions that may affect the thyroid.
  • allergies to dental products.
  • certain medications that have been known to reduce blood pressure.
  • oral infections.
  • acid reflux conditions.
  • nutritional deficiencies — in particular, iron or vitamin B deficiencies.

Treatment or Recommended Solutions

Since the underlying cause of BMS may vary, the treatment types will also differ from patient to patient. To provide immediate relief for the symptoms that are being experienced, most dentists will prescribe some type of pain relief medication, and also medication that can help with symptoms associated with dry mouth. If BMS is due to an underlying medical condition, your dentist will likely refer you to a specialist or a general practitioner with more experience.

You can ease the pain and symptoms that are associated with BMS by:

  • sipping on cold beverages or sucking on ice.
  • chewing sugarless gum.
  • avoiding irritants like tobacco, alcohol, spicy foods and products that are high in acids, like citrus juice.


BMS is considered to be quite rare, as it does not affect a large percentage of the population. It is also a syndrome that has yet to be properly classified, and does not have a distinct and concrete diagnosis criteria. Regardless, if you have been suffering from a burning or tingling sensation in your mouth for days or months, or if you have noticed that other unwanted changes, speak with a dentist immediately in order to obtain a more thorough and accurate diagnosis of your situation.