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Gum Diseases

Burning gums

05/07/2008

Question:

I am a 50 year old female with Sjogren`s syndrome. I see my dentist 4 times a year for cleanings because of this and have had BMS for several years.Recently my gums have started to burn also with no visible sign of infection or deterioration. I have asked him about it but he doesn`t know what to tell me. I just don`t want this to progress into something worse. I try to breathe through my nose and I brush and rinse(with a non-alchohol base)several times a day. Can you please advise if there is another in-home treatment I could try or if there is someone I can see about this.Thank you.

Answer:

Burning mouth syndrome probably is a sensory neuropathy - in other words, the nerves carrying information about oral sensations to the brain are not working just right and are sending incorrect information. In your case, the nerves are telling the brain that the mouth has been scalded, when in fact it hasn't. The areas of the mouth that are most frequently affected include the front part of the tongue, the front part of the roof of the mouth and the inner surface of the lips. However, any part of the mouth can be affected, including the gums.

Even though these areas feel burned, there is no actual damage to the tissues themselves. The sensations may migrate, persist or vanish entirely - it is impossible to predict for any particular patient. Often the severity of the symptoms waxes and wanes. One treatment that you may want to try is alpha-lipoic acid, 200 mg, taken three times daily for one to two months. This material can be purchased at a pharmacy or health food store - it is sold as a nutritional supplement, and it is one of the few treatments that has been shown to be effective in a scientific study.

If you have not been seen by an oral pathologist, it may be appropriate to do so in order to confirm the diagnosis.

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Response by:

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