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Dental and Oral Health Center

Burning mouth syndrome



Help! I`m sure I have burning mouth syndrome, as it has been described previously. Is there any treatment I can try? Who/where is the best practitioner/place to seek help from? I am 52, menopausal, take a multi-vitamin every day. I also take Evista, calcium, an occasional vitamin A & E, and now Nexium (I got that after an endoscopy showed ersophageal `erosions`) I think they were a result of 15 months on Fosamax. I am open to almost anything.


From this practitioner`s perspective, there is no medically proven treatment for burning mouth syndrome. In other words, there have been no scientific, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies that have proven that any particular treatment actually works any better than placebo ("sugar pill"). Most evidence points to this process representing a minor (but certainly annoying) disturbance of the sensory nerves in the oral regions.

I often describe the process to my patients as being similar to having your arm "fall asleep", which is another situation in which the nerves are sending annoying messages to the brain. Of course, with your arm, return to normal sensation is rather quick. And, actually, research has shown that the discomfort goes away by itself for more than half of burning mouth patients eventually, although the amount of time varies from person to person and is unpredictable. This unpredictable nature of the condition makes it hard to figure out if a particular drug that is given to treat burning mouth is actually helping, because in some cases, the condition would have gone away anyhow.

The best person to evaluate this problem is an oral and maxillofacial pathologist. This specialist in the diagnosis of oral disease can be found at most dental schools and a few major medical centers. 

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Burning Mouth Syndrome

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Response by:

Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD
Professor Emeritus of Oral Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University