Burning Mouth Syndrome (BMS) is a condition in which patients have a burning feeling in the mouth. On examination the mouth appears normal. Despite the normal appearance of the mouth the symptoms are very real and may be extremely distressing. Patients have often had the symptoms for many months or even years before being correctly diagnosed. Women are affected more often than men.
What are the symptoms of BMS?
The patient usually has a burning feeling in the mouth. This most commonly affects the tongue but also may affect the lips, palate and other sites inside the mouth. This is often present daily and worsens towards the end of the day. In some patients the symptoms may come and go. Often the mouth feels dry. Sometimes there is an unpleasant taste which is often described as a bitter or metallic taste.
What are the causes of BMS?
This is not fully understood. Hormonal changes and neuropathic mechanisms (changes originating in the nerves) may play a role. Psychological factors may also play a part as BMS often appear at times of increased stress. Sometimes, but not always, patients have a history of depression or anxiety.
How is BMS diagnosed?
BMS is usually diagnosed by taking a full history of the symptoms. Examination of the mouth is important to rule out other oral medicine conditions. Investigations may be indicated including blood tests to exclude anaemia or a deficiency in iron, folic acid or vitamin B12 and a saliva test or swab to rule out fungal infection (candidosis). Other investigations may be indicated in individual situations.
How may BMS be treated?
There are some treatments available to reduce the severity of the burning sensation. Sometimes drugs are required and there are a range of drugs which may be considered. In some situations psychological treatment in the form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may be useful.
Burning Mouth Syndrome clinic
Dr Poate runs a Burning Mouth Syndrome clinic at The Lister Hospital and The Guthrie Clinic in London and has considerable experience in diagnosing and managing patients with this condition.
Burning Mouth Syndrome Patient Day
Dr Poate runs an annual Burning Mouth Syndrome Patient Day in London for patients with BMS. This day gives patients the opportunity to meet other patients with this condition as well as hearing talks from specialists involved in managing patients with BMS and conducting research into BMS.
Dr Poate is involved in BMS research which is improving our understanding into the cause of BMS and therefore may help to improve treatment of this condition.
Dr Poate's Burning Mouth Syndrome results
Over the last 2 years patients of Dr Poate's who have been followed up for over 3 months have achieved the following results -
Complete resolution of symptoms: 11%
Improvement of over 50%: 48%
Improvement of less than 50%: 19%
No improvement: 22%
Burning Mouth Syndrome Patient Information leaflet
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Burning Mouth Syndrome Lecture
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